U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa's Warrior Zone Gets High Praise from Top NCO

By Mr. Rick RzepkaNovember 4, 2014

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1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Command Sgt. Maj. Antez Gilbert, center, U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa, explains why the Warrior Zone at Torii Station is unique in the Army inventory Nov. 3. The Warrior Zone is a modern multi-purpose entertainment center for Soldiers to socialize, ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

OKINAWA, Japan -- Installation Management Command's top noncommissioned officer for Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, visited U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa Nov. 2 -- 4 to get a better look at the installation's one-of-a-kind Warrior Zone.

Sergeant Maj. Dave Abbott toured Torii Station's MWR facilities including The Warrior Zone on the last leg of the Pacific Region Better Opportunities for Single Soldier training tour. Like many other facilities at other installations, the high-tech recreation center provides Soldiers a venue for entertainment nested in a comfortable, relaxed environment as an alternative to simply staying in their barracks. But what makes the Warrior Zone here unique, is that it is the Army's only unmanned, Soldier maintained facility of its kind open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I'm impressed … this far, far exceeds my expectations of what I was expecting to see here," said Abbott. "That's what the intention of BOSS is for -- to really look for those better opportunities for our single Soldiers … pull them out of the barracks and keep them out of the bars and give them other avenues of entertainment and help them use their off-duty time a lot wiser."

Abbott said he is impressed not only with the Warrior Zone facility, but with the quality of life programs that U.S. Army -- Okinawa offers Soldiers and Families.

"This facility and what the staff here at Torii Station has done here is remarkable and I think they're great stewards of the money we've given them to provide nice facilities and give the single Soldiers a great venue," said Abbott.

"Obviously, I have a great deal of faith in the single Soldier population here, because everything in that room is on my fixed-asset hand receipt," said Casey Grimmer, Supervisory Librarian and BOSS advisor. "It's for the Soldiers by the Soldiers and if they screw it up, it will get shut down."

By providing a level of trust, coupled with accountability and dash of deterrence, Grimmer said that there has only been one negative incident since the facility opened in March, 2013.

"It's not something we do surreptitiously. We don't have cameras stuck in unseen places and that sort of thing … You're on camera, you're responsible for your actions and we also post signs that say, 'You're subject to [the Uniformed Code of Military Justice] when you use this facility.

For the NCO in charge of the BOSS program, facilities like Okinawa's Warrior Zone are much more than just a well lit place to play video games and Skype with the Family -- the facility and BOSS writ large are force multipliers that correlate positively with Soldiers' performance and overall wellbeing.

"Right now in the Army, we talk about a ready and resilient force. If our squad leaders, platoon sergeants, 1st Sergeants and commanders understand the value and potential of BOSS, then they understand the ability that BOSS has to deliver ready and resilient programs directly to our single Soldiers. A lot of leaders see this as time that is taking away from their mission, where single Soldiers are pulled to go to meetings. When really the opposite is just as true -- it's an investment of time into our single Soldiers," said Abbott.