BOSS Aims to Make Army Life Easier
April 2, 2007
By Tim Hipps
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Army News Service, April 2, 2007) - Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program leaders are determined to make Army life easier for everyone - regardless of Soldiers' ages or marital status.
"We are becoming the bridge we have not been in the past few years," said Staff Sgt. Toprane Coatney, a BOSS representative at the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command here. "We have refocused our attention, the same way the Army has, to take care of the single warfighter and all of our warfighters.
The BOSS program's mission is to enhance the morale and welfare of single Soldiers, increase retention and sustain combat readiness through community services, recreation and leisure events, and to identify well-being issues for resolution.
Launched in 1989, BOSS has 82 programs scattered throughout the continental United States, Europe, Korea and the Pacific region.
"We are now looking at how the BOSS program fits when it comes to mission support," Coatney said. "What is the Army's mission and where does BOSS fit into it' We talk about pre-deployment, deployment and re-deployment, and where we fit into that. We look at the mission side and we know they're busy; we know they're focused. We know that the most important thing is for them to train Soldiers to go and fight the war on terror.
"At the same time, we know a low-morale Soldier or a Soldier who is not taken care of will be more susceptible to doing the wrong thing or will not be at his peak," Coatney added. "Our job is to be the bridge and the assistance to the command to take care of those Soldiers when they're preparing to deploy, while they're deployed and when they come back from deployment."
BOSS covers issues that can directly or indirectly influence or enhance morale, living environment, personal growth and development of Soldiers. Issues discussed during BOSS meetings eventually are directed to the appropriate command or staff agency for resolution. Armywide concerns are forwarded to the Army family action plan's biannual conferences for possible resolution by the Department of the Army.
There are seven region program managers and each installation has a BOSS president, an MWR advisor and a command sergeant major to help supervise the program's activities. A vice president, secretary and treasurer also serve on installation BOSS councils.
"The councils' responsibility is to plan and execute recreation and leisure activities relevant to the needs and requirements of single Soldiers on their installations, as well as facilitate community-service activities and look out for the Soldiers' well-being by being a bridge between the Soldier and the installation chain of command," Coatney said.
"We want to get away from the BOSS program being only about barracks," Martin added. "The BOSS program is the vehicle by which any issues brought up by Soldiers are surfaced to the command. We take the issues from the Soldier to the commander to get things done."
BOSS leaders also want to correct the misperception that BOSS exists only for single, lower-enlisted Soldiers.
"That is our focus. That is our target. That is our demographic," Coatney said. "However, we're open to all branches of the military. We're open to married and single Soldiers. We're open to lower enlisted, junior officers, senior noncommissioned officers - we're all inclusive."
In recent years, BOSS has also begun to embrace family members.
Senior Soldiers or dual military families can become "single" or geographical bachelors through deployment or permanent change of station. They benefit greatly from BOSS support.
"Whether providing a party for kids of deployed parents or arranging a way to give spouses a day off so they can have fun, we program for all," said Coatney, who added that most misperceptions about BOSS stem from a lack of understanding.
"If a person wants more information about the BOSS program or wants to get educated about what programs are available locally, I would highly suggest they attend a BOSS meeting or talk to their unit BOSS representative," he said.
The biggest BOSS meeting of the year, the annual BOSS Conference themed "BOSS Strong, Supporting the Mission," is scheduled for April 30 through May 4 at the National Conference Center in Landsdowne, Va.
"We're relevant, no matter where you are in life," Coatney said. "No matter what you've got going on; no matter what your needs or wants are, we're there. We can fit, and we do fit."
(Tim Hipps serves with Family and Morale, Welfare, Recreation Command Public Affairs.)