Schofield's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers nets DA praise
September 11, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program recently proved that, when it comes to taking care of unmarried service men and women, its work is second to only one among extra-large installations around the world.
At the 2009 Department of Army BOSS Forum, Aug. 10-14 in Lansdowne, Va., the USAG-HI team took home second-place honors in two categories, Best Event and Best Installation, among garrisons with more than 10,000 single Soldiers.
Only the team from Fort Campbell, Ky., proved to be better than Hawaii when it came to exemplifying the three pillars of BOSS: quality of life, recreation and leisure, and community service.
The results caught the local triad's representatives by surprise. The Army Hawaii triad is comprised of Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Williamson, senior enlisted adviser; Sgt. Erica Silvestre, BOSS president; and Matt Enoch, adviser for the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate (FMWR).
"I was shocked that we were the runner-up to Fort Campbell," said Williamson, whose triad also received monetary awards of $500 for each of its second-place finishes. "They're like the Michael Phelps of swimming when it comes to extra-large installations. And to finish second to them is a blessing in and of itself.
"But also," he continued, "our team has only been working together for the past 10 months. And for us to basically rebuild our BOSS program from scratch in that amount of time, and then finish second, is amazing."
The local triad leaders commended the efforts of Army Hawaii BOSS representatives, who act on behalf of their companies, brigades and battalions, and through whom the program has prospered.
But Williamson and Enoch reserved their highest praise for Silvestre, whose job it was to put together a video for submission that best demonstrated the local installation's commitment to the BOSS program. In addition, Silvestre was required to enter a static display board and community book, the latter of which is a guide to ensure continuity whenever a changeover of BOSS presidents occurs.
"I was extremely pleased and excited about the awards," Enoch said. "At the same time, it's hard to say I was surprised because I know what effort Sgt. Silvestre put into preparing everything. She organized those award packages in such a way that gave us the best chance to compete. It was high-quality stuff."
"Sgt. Silvestre," Williamson added, "puts her heart and soul into this program."
Silvestre said the awards will afford Soldiers something tangible "to touch and see" - and that knowledge should give them confidence in the ever-expanding program. And although she's happy with the awards, she admits to not being completely satisfied.
"Getting second was good, but it was still kind of disappointing because, when I was up there getting the awards, I knew we weren't first," Silvestre said. "But it gives us a goal to come in first next year. That makes me want to try that much harder and get our Soldiers motivated."
In its 20th year, the BOSS forum brought together teams of Soldiers and Army civilians from around the world for training opportunities. Team members participated in some 50 educational seminars on marketing, budgeting and leadership before wrapping up the five-day conference with an awards banquet.
The program, officials say, is a necessary component of the Army that assists single Soldiers in coping with the everyday rigors of military life.
"When a single Soldier gets off a plane following deployment and turns in his weapons, who's there to greet him'" Enoch asked. "Who's there for him or her when they're in their barracks on a weekend, and there's no one to hang out with'
"That's why the BOSS program is important to our Soldiers," he continued. "And it's important for our Soldiers to know that this program is here for them."
BOSS is an award-winning program in which, according to Williamson, local Soldiers can now say with complete confidence, "Rocks!"