Trailways Traveler
How Strong Bonds Brings Military Families Together

The U.S. military is dedicated to the health and well-being of its soldiers. In addition to the soldiers themselves, in recent years the military has become more mindful of the well-being of their spouses and children as well. This has formed the basis and motive for implementing the Strong Bonds program.

The military has come to understand that the stronger the family, the stronger the soldier. Strong Bonds is a unit-based, non-denominational family assistance program led by chaplains to assist in building soldier resiliency.

Trailways and Strong Bonds
A Perfect Match
Since 2012, Trailways has provided approximately 60 to 70 Strong Bonds bus trips. Trailways coordinates transportation for the "movement of Soldiers and their Families to retreat locations" and for participants to arrive on time with "no deviation."

All bus companies in the Trailways network are Department of Defense-approved and therefore are the first choice for bidding on military transportation of all types.

Seventeen percent of the 400 DoD-approved bus companies in this country are in the Trailways network.

Trailways connection to the military dates to back several decades. During WWII, for example, Trailways buses were deployed nearly around the clock for US military transport. "Born of the Night" was a prevailing Trailways bus theme for transporting passengers, mostly Armed Forces personnel, in the darkened hours of the night.
Strong Family Relationships Help Support Success

Families provide emotional support and boost morale, enabling soldiers to perform more effectively in their unit and in their military role.

Strong Bonds states that their core mission is to support both the individual soldier and their family members and increase readiness. They accomplish this through relationship skills training and education. Strong Bonds programs are conducted offsite in a retreat format in a resort or large hotel to give soldiers and their families an immersive effect. In this setting, military families can more easily address the issues that might be contributing to conflict within the family.

The most common stresses facing military couples and families include:

Deployments: When a soldier is away on active duty and is stationed many miles away and/or in a foreign country, this inevitably puts stress on the family relationships.

Relocations: Even in cases where the whole family is relocated together, this can be a cause for stress within the family. Today's military families often face numerous PCS moves throughout a soldier’s career. Moving is stressful, and while the military covers the costs, it takes time and effort to prepare for a move.

Raising Children: Striving to be good parents and raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children can also be a challenge for military families. Separation anxiety can be very high, especially for young children. Even the healthiest marriages can begin to become strained when too many stressful elements crop up.

Strong Bonds Awards Gold Coin to Trailways Driver
Birnie Bus Driver Aids Returning Military
Bernard Pallottie, a driver with Birnie Bus Trailways in Rome, New York (now retired) received the "Gold Coin" Award in 2012 for his service to the Strong Bonds retreats program.

Pallottie drove his group of soldiers to a retreat at Holt Lake Lodge and its amusement park. They all had recently returned home from assignment. The driver, a veteran himself, was able to relate to the young men; therefore, they formed a bond. "War makes you become a man very quickly. You lose the years of your youth. The trip helped them feel like kids again," he said.

"Bernie had been a great leader and showed his special commitment to the community and service members, in particular," said Tim Birnie, President of Birnie Bus Trailways.

Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program for commanders that builds relationship resiliency. The Strong Bonds mission is to increase Soldier and Family readiness after coming home from war through relationship-education and skills training. It helps single soldiers, couples and families to thrive in the turbulence of the military environment.
Skills, Tools and Resources for Handling Stress

The enrichment retreats and classes offered through the Strong Bonds program can assist both couples and families in finding constructive ways to deal with the stress.

One of the central techniques taught by the Strong Bonds program is called PREP, which stands for Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program. PREP techniques address the core issues behind why many marriages fail, which is most often because the couple lacks the necessary tools to address problems and issues when they arise. No matter how long a couple has been married, they can benefit from this program and draw from this resource to enrich, enhance and strengthen their bond.

Strong Bonds Programs for Singles, Families with Children

Strong Bonds isn’t just for couples. There are also programs designed to assist single soldiers. These programs assist in educating single soldiers in making good relationship choices. The P.I.C.K. curriculum (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge) assists in building relationship skills and educating singles on how to choose a compatible ideal life partner.

Strong Bonds Family Program is designed specifically for families with children to help them cope more effectively with the cycle of deployments, relocations, redeployments and other aspects of military life. All Strong Bonds programs are free for members of military families.

Army research has found the Strong Bonds program to be highly successful. Divorce rates are 50 percent lower in couples who participate in the program, and marital satisfaction rates are higher. Nearly 100 percent of participants say that they found the program to be helpful and beneficial to

Click here for more information about the Strong Bonds program.

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