By Kimberly Gearhart, USAG Schweinfurt Public AffairsAugust 29, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany - Schweinfurt is once again pulling in Armywide recognition as a community on the forefront of Family and Soldier programming. On the heels of a Department of the Army recognition for having the best recreation center, the U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program earned honors for best event in its category.
The "This One's For You," or TOFU, event was born of the need to help single Soldiers reintegrate upon returning from lengthy deployments. The event was named best BOSS event, medium-sized installation, at the Department of the Army BOSS Forum in Washington Aug. 8.
"We teamed up with several community agencies ... to provide assistance and training in a fun, nontraditional way," said Silvia Joiner, recreation specialist and Schweinfurt BOSS advisor behind the TOFU event series.
For example, representatives from the Army Substance Abuse Program conducted sessions about the dangers of substance abuse. TOFU paired the lesson with a mechanical bull ride and an apparatus known as "drunk goggles."
"We could show Soldiers how different levels of intoxication would affect them by challenging them to perform mundane tasks, or with a bull riding contest," said Cathy Manos, USAG Schweinfurt ASAP prevention coordinator.
The winner walked away with gift cards and a sobering lesson regarding his own abilities while under the influence of alcohol.
Soldiers returning from downrange face the reality of dealing with the aftermath of combat stress: trouble reconnecting with civilian life, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. The Army is working to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help, and TOFU incorporated that goal.
"We had professionals from Social Work Services at the events, just to get their faces out there. The fun environment helped take the edge off meeting and talking to someone" in behavioral health, Joiner said.
According to Manos, the same held true for helping agencies such as ASAP and Community Health.
"It's exactly what everyone (in BOSS) should be doing right now: focusing on the single Soldier and reintegration. We were the only ones in the competition to grasp that concept," Joiner said. "This is really what BOSS is about: taking care of the single Soldier."
That insight earned Schweinfurt BOSS the Best Event in the Army honor.
TOFU events begin anew 1 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Finney Recreation Center on Conn Barracks, recently named the best in its category in the Army.
Although designed to aid Soldiers returning from downrange, the event is open to all Soldiers.
"We really hope commanders get behind us and that everyone comes out. The life skills are valuable for everyone, and everyone is welcome." Joiner said.