Fort Bragg Single Soldiers program offers many benefits
September 10, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Single and unaccompanied Soldiers on Fort Bragg needing a problem solved, searching for volunteer opportunities or finding something fun to do on post can find all of that and more at the Fort Bragg Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, better known as BOSS.
Two BOSS officers have made it their goal to make sure every single Soldier knows all about the program.
BOSS installation president Spc. Kadu Kunze and vice president Spc. Madison Chambers know all about living in the barracks and not knowing anyone or where to go for fun.
"The fact that we're both lower enlisted and live in the barracks, we're relatively new to the Army, we know how that feels. (When you're) new, you don't know anyone and there's nothing to do - it's not a good feeling," said Chambers.
The organization has a lot of backing and support from garrison command, said Chambers. "They want to see Fort Bragg BOSS program be the best there is. We joke that Fort Bragg BOSS needs to be 'something to Bragg about.'" Following the guidance from Fort Bragg Garrison higher command, Fort Bragg is doing everything possible to ensure Soldier well-being and support single Soldiers.
"The Command Sergeant Major (Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel B. Campbell) is very proactive about this program. It makes a big difference to the program to have such good command support," said Denise Heller, Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation advisor for BOSS.
FMWR helps BOSS with office space, supplies and other needs, added Heller.
One way BOSS is spreading the message is using social media such as Facebook. "Our goal is to make it so all single Soldiers know about BOSS. All they have to do is look at this Facebook page or Web page or call this number and be able to find out what's going on this weekend for themselves or their fellow Soldiers," said Heller.
Case in point, BOSS posted on their Facebook page that the first 20 Soldiers who posted on their page would get tickets to the Aug. 22, Panthers/Jets game in Charlotte, N.C. "We didn't put it out any other way. It was kind of a test," said Heller. "It's a good thing for Soldiers to watch the Facebook page because they never know what kind of opportunities are going to pop up."
New Soldiers coming to Fort Bragg will soon be introduced to BOSS as part of their orientation, said Chambers. "We'll give out a Powerpoint presentation, hand out information and business cards to any new single Soldiers on post so that they will know about us," added Chambers.
"About 30 percent of mishaps on Fort Bragg are from new Soldiers that come to Fort Bragg within the first six months. If they knew of a program for Soldiers run by Soldiers, I guarantee that number would go down," said Kunze.
BOSS is based on three pillars: planning recreational and leisure activities in a safe and exciting environment; creating opportunities for Soldiers to contribute to the community by volunteering; and becoming an advocate for the single Soldier by identifying quality of life issues and concerns to the command.
"It's been our goal for a while to have something BOSS related every week for Soldiers," said Chambers. Some of the activities BOSS provides are the Army Festival of the Arts Competition, "Somethin' to Bragg About" Talent Extravaganza Sept. 4 and 18 and Speed Dating - Luau Style Sept.17. Some of the activities planned include bowling every month and trips to Biltmore Estates in Asheville, N.C. and deep sea fishing adventures. Additionally, Dave and Busters game nights in Charlotte, N.C. only touch the tip of the iceberg of activities planned well into 2011. "After the planning meeting, I realized I'll have something planned every week for the next 18 months," joked Kunze.
Volunteering gives single Soldiers opportunities for growth and connecting to the community, said Chambers.
"We try to emphasize with them that they can work towards the Volunteer Service Medal. We have a way of logging volunteers' hours so they can get credit for them," she said. "When they've earned enough, they can qualify for the medal (and earn) promotions points. It's a big deal with the Soldiers in the BOSS program that they can get something for all their efforts with us."
With the FMWR partnership that BOSS has, there is always something to volunteer for, said Chambers.
Some of the other benefits of volunteering through BOSS are more immediate. "They get to pull backstage security (at FMWR-sponsored concerts). It's one of the perks of a BOSS Soldier," said Heller. Volunteers also help with recycling and other duties at the events. A future volunteer opportunity is helping senior citizens at the Cumberland County Fair on Senior Day, Sept. 24. "At the fair they are going to be assisting wheelchair-bound seniors. They will also help serve lunch to seniors. BOSS does this every year," added Heller.
The third mandate of the program is that BOSS becomes a conduit for Soldiers to reach out and discuss with the commander issues they are having. Another way is through the Town Hall, said Heller.
"(During Town Hall meetings), Soldiers have the opportunity to say, 'Well, there was theft in my barracks and nobody did anything about it.' You'll see the garrison commander and the garrison command sergeant major say, 'That is unacceptable. Let's make a note of that. We're going to fix that right now. Give us your name and phone number, we will get back with you.' They deal with that issue on the spot," said Chambers.
"(Town Hall) helps us so much because a lot of Soldiers know that "flow down" is usually not a problem but "flow up" will sometimes catch a snag because NCOs (noncommisioned officers) are busy and sometimes they forget," said Kunze. "These Town Hall meetings, they're right on point with it. They don't consider this breaking the chain of command because it's authorized."
"It does pay for the single Soldiers to be involved with the BOSS program by coming to our events and participating because when the Soldiers get to know us, they know that we can walk into the garrison command sergeant major's office on a regular basis and have sit-downs with him, let him know what's going on in our program," said Chambers.
Any Soldier can be a member. There are BOSS representatives from each unit at the company, battalion and brigade level, said Chambers.
"They don't have to be alone and sit in their barracks, feel lonely, be sad and miss their Families. We want them to know that they do have a Family, the BOSS program can be their Family," said Heller.
"It's a gateway to better things," added Kunze.
BOSS meetings are held the first Wednesday of every month. For more information, visit the BOSS Office at Building 8-6454, Butner Road at the First Citizens Bank North Post PX complex or call them at 396-7751. Fort Bragg BOSS is also online at www.fortbraggmwr.com/boss.php or Facebook under "Fort Bragg BOSS Program."