By Jim HughesApril 17, 2009
ANSBACH, Germany -- From getting free to reduced prices on trips and activities to improving quality of life to making new friends to spending some quality time with NFL cheerleaders and other stars, BOSS lives up to its name at U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach: Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.
After winning awards in the past and seeing a resurgence in recent years thanks to garrison leadership support and Jenny Sullivan, garrison BOSS adviser, the program is kicking into an all-time high in 2009 with activities aplenty and a brand new center opening up in June.
Open to all single Soldiers and geographical bachelors or bachelorettes, BOSS has its foundation in its three pillars: quality of life, recreation and community service, said Sullivan.
"Recreation is the one most people are familiar with, but the others are very important, too," she said.
BOSS' recreation heyday was after the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade returned from a deployment to Iraq and began to settle down back at home.
The program's 12 Days of Christmas non-stop activities featured a holiday party, free bowling, a trip to the Nuremberg Christmas Market, a trip to see a movie in English in Nuremberg, a trip to Rothenberg, racing go-karts in Weihenzell, a trip to the Palm Beach water park and a New Year's Eve trip to a huge nightclub complex in Munich.
That run was followed by skiing, trips and other activities. In May, BOSS looks forward to a trip to Spain that is proving quite popular with the single masses, said BOSS President Sgt. Daniel Bullock.
"We just had a unit rep call and sign up 23 people-we're going to need a fleet of buses," he said.
Sure, Spain is a great place to visit, but there is added incentive in going along with BOSS-the price is right.
"This program is run by the Soldiers-the unit reps are where the rubber meets the road. They talk to the Soldiers in their unit and then bring the ideas of what people want to do and we make it happen," Bullock said, referring to the BOSS staff. "We work with the companies to get the best price we can for every trip and activity we do."
By bringing big numbers, BOSS is usually able to cut down on the costs and sometimes even get extra perks like English translators or additional tours. Bullock estimates most trips end up costing a Soldier half or even a third of what they would normally spend.
Another benefit of BOSS trips is they usually manage to keep people out of trouble.
"Sometimes Soldiers go out and tear up the whole downtown, or get in trouble, or drive drunk, or get beat up or beat someone up," he said. "BOSS tries to employ these Soldiers and keep them active in the community-doing good things for people-to show what the Army is really about; our Army values. We try to do activities that demonstrate single Soldiers aren't always downtown acting a fool."
The trip to Munich on New Year's is a prime example, Bullock said.
"I took 30 Soldiers down there on a bus. I dropped each one off at the main gate to the installation they lived on. Stuff like that makes us an asset-30 Soldiers went out, had a good time and came back safely."
On the quality of life side, Ansbach BOSS is an enhancement to already-established means of taking care of Soldiers, Sullivan said.
"Soldiers bring problems and ideas to us and we always check to make sure they have gone up their chain of command first before raising the issue," she said. "A lot of times it is a new idea or something where they are unsure of where to take their idea to."
One example took place with facilities at a barracks building on Shipton Kaserne, Bullock said.
"It was brought to our attention that the washing machines in the building were broke-65 percent of them," he said. "We got all the information from the rep and wrote it up where it showed the impact it was having on the Soldiers, and they were fixed right then and there."
Being the command sergeant major's program, BOSS has the ears of leadership, Bullock said.
"I didn't realize how much we had leadership's ear until I took this job," he said. "This program really gives single Soldier more of a say in their community. Even things like having the 1+1 barracks, more lax barracks rules and being able to have visitors in the barracks are results of BOSS quality of life efforts."
As for the community service pillar, well, it's a little better than some might imagine.
"We try to make it fun," Sullivan said. "If we're doing something we try to have music, games or maybe a barbecue to go along with the work."
And some of the projects would take a bit of a stretch to qualify as work.
"Some of the Soldiers' favorites are the concerts or the cheerleader team visits," Sullivan said.
But some efforts might have a work feel to them-all to do some good in the community.
"We're looking into walking animals at the Tierheim-a doggy caravan," Bullock said, adding that with 100 hours registered for volunteerism, Soldiers can get extra points towards promotion. "And we'll be designing, building and operating the obstacle course at the Jungle Jam Month of the Military Child Event and also the set for the Best of the Best talent show."
The BOSS of all news is the new facility in the basement of the Von Steuben Recreation Center-the former Underground bar. The garrison funded renovations to the facility to become the new home for BOSS.
The facility is largely gutted right now as contractors work feverishly to get it ready for the anticipated late June opening, but when it is finished, it will be a place to be proud of for single Soldiers.
"The design is a lot like the upper-scale sports bars in the U.S.," Bullock said. "But it will be versatile-we'll have state-of-the-art video and audio systems, the ability to block off parts of or open up the whole facility, video games, board games and everything."