PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2021) – The 25 members of the Presidio of Monterey Better Opportunities for Single Service members who spent their Veterans Day volunteering at the 11th Annual Veterans Day Parade in Salinas could have done just about anything with their day off.
Instead of relaxing, however, they considered it a day of service.
“We are honoring those who served us, the people who came before and shaped the military as it is today,” said Navy Seaman Joel Anderson, president of the PoM BOSS program. “They’re the ones who served for us, so it’s our turn to serve for them.”
After receiving instructions from members of the Salinas Police Department, the volunteers fanned out throughout the parade route in safety vests to staff barricades at intersections. The service members’ volunteer work was an example of the close relationship between PoM and the local community.
Tony Virrueta, parade organizer and former Army Ranger, met with the volunteers, all language students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, before the parade and thanked them for helping.
The parade—which draws more than 20,000 people— requires about 100 volunteers, Virrueta said, so the BOSS volunteers helped considerably in terms of logistics. “We need every single one of them to work with the police department, so we’re grateful for that,” he said.
Virrueta said he is also thankful because he knows they could have spent their time elsewhere.
“I know they had a choice [on Veterans Day], and that choice was to enjoy their well-earned time off or come and help serve their community, and they chose that one, and for that I am forever grateful,” Virrueta said.
The service members said they were happy to help.
Marine Corps Pfc. Amie Artimisi, assigned to the Marine Corps Detachment at PoM and studying Arabic, said she her father and stepmother are veterans and she wanted to honor them on Veterans Day.
“I’ve always been a really patriotic person, and Veterans Day is really important to me,” Artimisi said.
Likewise, Army Spc. Tiffaney Mitchell, assigned to Company A, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion and studying Indonesian, said she wanted to honor the veterans in her family, including an uncle who recently retired after 20 years of Navy service and a cousin who deployed to Afghanistan.
“I’m very proud, and I want to just commemorate all the sacrifices that people have made in the past and are continuing to make,” Mitchell said. “Happy Veterans Day!”
Marine Corps Pfc. Blaine Willoughby, assigned to the Marine Corps Detachment and studying Korean, is the BOSS representative for his platoon and said he thought it was important as a service member to volunteer on Veterans Day.
“I really appreciate, especially with the Marines, how close of a family [the military] is, and I want to volunteer to show my support for the people who are out of the service and who are still serving,” Willoughby said.
The BOSS program, at installations throughout the world, is built on the pillars of quality of life, community service, and recreation and leisure. Service members said they appreciate the program and the opportunities it provides to expand their horizons off duty, whether it’s through volunteering, socializing at the Hobson Recreation Center on post or attending a recreational trip off post.
“It gives us a lot of opportunities to get off base and out of the barracks, which, especially with the language classes, you need some time to give your mind a break and do something different,” Willoughby said.
Likewise, Navy Seaman Ashlynne Carey, assigned to the Information Warfare Training Command, Monterey, and studying Persian Farsi, said one of the reasons she wanted to volunteer at the parade was because it was a great chance to get to know the local community.
“It’s really easy to just get trapped in your room and focus on your language, which is of course really important, but it’s also important to get out and just engage,” Carey said.
Anderson said he thanks U.S. Army Garrison PoM for the BOSS program and values the chance to serve the community through the program. “It’s just fun to see everyone come together and help other people,” he said.
For more information on the PoM BOSS program, visit https://presidio.armymwr.com/programs/boss.