By Suet Lee-Growney, Fort Riley Public AffairsFebruary 9, 2018
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers is an Army-wide program for single service members. The organization puts on events, creates opportunities for community service and gives single Soldiers a chance to socialize.
The president of BOSS, Spc. Delano Vankuren, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, said the organization represents the single Soldier.
"BOSS is the voice of the single Soldier," Vankuren said. "The purpose of BOSS is to boost morale and to get Soldiers out of their rooms to meet new people -- to have fun and build friendships that could very well last a lifetime."
There are three pillars to BOSS: quality of life, community service and recreation and leisure, said Sgt. Janette Blunt, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. Blunt also serves as the vice president for the program.
"We figure out what they want to do and what they need," Blunt said. "And then we create events based on that. And then we also support them however they may need in certain areas (such as) quality of life, community service and recreation and leisure, which is our three pillars."
One of the wrong ideas Soldiers have of BOSS is most of their events are held during times with work schedule conflicts, Blunt said. Through interacting and organizing events for single service members, BOSS is able to determine their needs and makes sure there is always something for everyone.
"It's called Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers; however, we are turning that to make it more inclusive … we want to offer more to all Soldiers, not just the single ones," she said. "(A mistaken belief is that) it doesn't seem like it's accessible or with their schedules, it might seem like it's impossible -- not just impossible, but it's also the events that we do may not always fit the type of activities that they do in their free time. And that's of course why we are trying to gauge more with Soldiers to figure out what they want to do, so we can try and include everybody, so everyone has something to do."
Another common misconception, Vankuren said, is BOSS events aren't friendly to single Soldiers with kids. There are activities they organize that are child-friendly.
"One of the stereotypes is that single Soldiers with children cannot participate in BOSS events -- this is actually not true," he said. "They can participate; it's just a little more difficult because of a child. However, we can definitely help to try and accommodate for that."
The program is in a constant state of work-in-progress to tailor to the changing needs, habits and generation of Soldiers. By conforming, BOSS is able to provide the best assistance to single Soldiers.
"Think of BOSS like a living creature," Vankuren said. "It has to adapt and overcome any obstacles. The world is changing and everyone's interest is changing, BOSS has to change with them in order to provide the best services."
Nevertheless, there is one thing BOSS does that stands undeterred by trends and changing needs -- community service. There are many volunteering opportunities available through the program, such as USO Fort Riley No Dough dinners, volunteer of the quarter award ceremonies, Army Community Service and Morale, Welfare and Recreation events, Habitat for Humanity in Manhattan, Kansas, Ronald McDonald House in Topeka and festivals within the Flint Hills community.
"We are just trying to give them an avenue to have fun, enjoy their time off and just relax, but also get involved with the community," Blunt said. "Plus as far as volunteer events go, the (Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal), they have to get 500 hours community service hours in order to earn that. We are offering more of those activities and opportunities for them to help out in the community (to earn that medal)."
The BOSS program is working on creating more avenues with organizations at Fort Riley and off post for Soldiers to contribute their time, Vankuren said.
"We are actively moving to build relationships to tie Fort Riley into the community," he said. "Right now we are working with Outdoor (Recreation) … and maintaining the animal shelter here at Fort Riley. We are looking to provide some volunteers to assist with the maintenance and upkeep."
Vankuren said he hopes to see people who come and participate in BOSS events proud of it because that is the best way to promote the program.
"I want them to be able to go up to someone and say, 'hey, BOSS is doing something this weekend and you should come join them,'" he said. "Instead of us trying to preach BOSS. We want Soldiers to be proud of the BOSS program here at Fort Riley because we are here for them. We are here for the Soldiers."
The next BOSS event is the Love Sucks Valentine's Day party at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Warrior Zone. For more information on events, volunteer opportunities and how to get involved, call the BOSS office at 785-239-2677.