By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)July 18, 2016
TORII STATION, Okinawa -- Two years of hard work and dedication to the U.S. Army's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program has earned a Torii Station Soldier the top job as the voice of single Soldiers across the Army.
After a rigorous selection process by Installation Management Command G-9, Sgt. Maj. Mike Hatfield and other senior enlisted leaders, Sgt. James Turner, 10th Support Group, got the nod to serve as an advocate for single Soldier issues at the Department of the Army-level, while mentoring and coaching BOSS representatives and presidents Army-wide.
Turner said he's excited about the new job and looks forward to advocating and assisting in the development of policy, while acting as a liaison for senior leaders on decisions that impact single Soldiers.
"I've helped grow an excellent program and allowed it to thrive," said Turner. "As a result, we have been able to give back to the community, help support the Army mission within the region, and improve the quality of life for the Soldiers under the program's umbrella. With my move to IMCOM, I hope to be able to continue this pattern by helping instill meaningful changes across the Army organization," he said.
Turner already has several goals on how to polish the program, which seeks to enhance the morale and welfare of single Soldiers, increase retention and sustain combat readiness.
"First, I hope to develop a system to help track BOSS participation across the Army to develop metrics which show the benefits the BOSS program provides participants. These would help show the impact that BOSS has on everything from promotion rates to avoiding adverse action," he said.
Turner's other goals include: developing a network between garrisons to help create a support system for single Soldiers during their PCS moves and increasing support for programs at smaller installations and remote locations.
"Many of the largest garrisons have outstanding BOSS programs, but it is often the smallest of the installations where Soldiers need the most support," said Turner. "It is here that BOSS would be able to provide the greatest benefit to Soldiers' quality of life and to the community as a whole."
Turner's own metrics as Okinawa BOSS President are impressive -- especially for a smaller-sized garrison like Okinawa.
"Sgt. Turner used his personal time to provide direct support to more than 600 single Soldiers to ensure mission readiness and a high quality of life," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Broadnax, BOSS senior enlisted advisor. "Turner was personally responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of more than 100 events for single Soldiers, as well as coordinating 360 volunteers to conduct more than 5,100 hours of community service … saving more than $72,000," said Broadnax.
BOSS is especially important for small organizations like USAG-Okinawa, where Soldiers operate in a joint environment daily. "The program gives them something to call their own and they maintain it," said Broadnax. "They coordinate for numerous volunteer activities on base and in our local Japanese communities. This program allows our Soldiers to bond and learn from each other," he said.
BOSS advisor and Librarian Casey Grimmer said that Turner was tireless in his dedication and during his tenure, participation in the program grew exponentially as have the types of events and community service opportunities offered.
The crown jewel of Turner's community service efforts is a partnership between BOSS and the Nagomi Children's Home -- a local orphanage where BOSS Soldiers regularly volunteer their time.
"After many months of development, BOSS is fostering a long-term relationship with the establishment," said Turner. "We will be conducting monthly engagements to help care for the facility and provide for the children. This is an enduring relationship I hope will continue long after I leave," he said.
Turner's fingerprints will remain on the Okinawa BOSS program for the foreseeable future, while his replacement has some large boots to fill. His commitment to taking care of single Soldiers will serve him well at the DA level and Soldiers across the enterprise will benefit from his enthusiasm.
"My advice to single Soldiers is simple: get out, and get involved," said Turner. "It is too easy to sit at home and while away your free time, but that is not what makes memories worth having. Getting involved in the community, experiencing new things and making personal connections is what will leave a person reflecting on their time and saying, 'that was worth it.' That is how I've tried to spend my time on Okinawa and my biggest focus with the BOSS program as a whole."