FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Aviation Branch and garrison command sergeants major, along with CSMs from the 1st Aviation Brigade, the 110th Avn. Bde. and the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group hosted a town hall in the post theater March 9 to discuss how to improve the quality of life for single Soldiers, primarily through the post’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program.
Command Sgts. Maj. James D. Wilson, Raymond P. Quitugua Jr., Terrence D. Reyes Jr., William E. Haddon and Michael W. Narvid listened to and spoke to single Soldiers from across the post who attended in person and via Microsoft Teams.
“I’ve been in the Army for 30 years and barracks life for a single Soldier was not always great, and it’s probably not all that great right now,” Wilson said. “I can’t change the Army, but what I can do is change the way the people around me experience the Army -- by the way I treat them and by the way I talk to them every day. I believe that wholeheartedly – I can change the way the people around me experience the Army. If we all do that, guess what happens? We change the Army, we make it a better place.”
Quitugua spoke about the Army’s People First strategy and its focus on the resiliency of the force.
“For a lot of us a little more senior in the Army, our resiliency is built on our support group – our spouse, our children. But for the majority of you here, you may not have those same types of things,” he said. “You left your family, you left your support group to join the Army and we recognize that.
“You made a great decision for your career and we feel we owe you that support group,” Quitugua added. “We have a fantastic BOSS program at Fort Rucker, and what we want to do is take a little time out of our day today and talk to you. We have an idea about what we think is important to you, but it’s much better to hear it directly from you. We want to hear what is important to you and the areas we can make better. You may not get the answer you want, but I promise you will get an answer.”
Cpl. Anastasha L. Capps, Fort Rucker BOSS president, kicked things off by talking about the program and what is does for single Soldiers.
“BOSS is founded on three main pillars: quality of life, recreation and leisure, and community service,” she said. “We actually help to be the voice for the single Soldier – we collect information from Soldiers at our BOSS meetings while holding conversations on morale. Are you being taken care of? How are your living quarters? Is everything on post up to standard? Is there anything you would like to see changed?”
For community service, BOSS Soldiers volunteer in surrounding communities to help out and get Soldiers some community service hours, she said. For recreation and leisure, “everyone’s favorite for BOSS,” Capps said, it includes going on trips. “Last year, as a rewards trip for everyone who volunteered for the year, we took the whole team to Orlando, Florida, and went to Universal Studios,” for free with revenue generated by BOSS-sponsored activities.
BOSS meets the first and third Mondays of every month at 4 p.m. in the BOSS building, Bldg. 8350. To attend Soldiers need not have any association with the program, and it is also open to leadership, as well, Quitugua said, adding that the program is for permanent party single Soldiers, including single parents, and not those in training status.
BOSS also helps with personal development, helping Soldiers gain life skills they need now and in the future, Capps said, adding that in the past they’ve helped Soldiers learn about doing their taxes, tips for PCSing and others. BOSS will be hosting a CPR certification class in April, as well.
“Life skills are an absolutely amazing tool for BOSS where we get IMCOM funding to actually host different events to teach people life skills at no cost to Soldiers,” she said. “Last year, at Day at the Lake, we took Soldiers out and we gave them a boating class, got them boating licenses and they were able to take out motorized boats, canoes and paddle boards for the day. We also had a cooking class where everyone was taught grill safety and food sanitation, then we grilled, filled our bellies and went out on the water for most of the day. It was free to the Soldiers and they learned quite a few things.
“We welcome everyone to attend our biweekly meetings –just come out and listen, see what we’re talking about, or let us know what your living conditions are, or just listen for people in your unit who can’t attend and be the voice for your unit,” Capps said. “A lot of times Command Sergeant Major Quitugua is present at these BOSS meetings – it isn’t just a lot of us complaining or anything like that –we have an open ear directly to the garrison command team trying to make sure you guys are taken care of.”
But to make BOSS work, Soldiers have to buy in and participate, Wilson said, adding that the program’s offerings historically suffer from low participation rates.
“If you don’t like your experience, you’re bored sitting in your room not having any fun, we’re here today saying there’s a way to get after it,” he said. “But you have to get on it with us – show some interest.
“Believe it or not, all we (pointing to the other sergeants major) think about most of the time is you. Whether it is training you, taking care of you, or looking after you and your families,” Wilson added. “Getting the mission done, and how do we do that and make sure all of you have everything you need to do it – all of the training you need to do it, and taking care of you mentally, physically, all of that. We want you to win. Everyone up here, myself included, all we want is for you to win – win in the Army and win in life. That is what this program is about.”
Soldiers in the audience and online were given the chance to speak, as well, with many offering ideas for BOSS offerings and asking questions about the program.
Many of the suggestions from the single Soldiers were things BOSS and other Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organizations, such as Army Community Service, already provide, according to Lynn Avila, MWR BOSS adviser. These included fishing and hunting opportunities, credit classes, home-buying classes, powerlifting competitions, resume writing, etc.
“A lot of things you’re talking about are already being done -- we just need you,” she said, adding that members of the communities surrounding Fort Rucker “love you. They’ll do anything for you – they just have to know what you need. They’ll give you money, not personally, but for your activities.”
She then spoke about a Super Bowl watch BOSS put on, and after approaching a sponsor for an event the program received great support. “We had so many gift cards, so many gifts, so much food -- it was a feast. We had probably 50 pounds of snacks, but we only had 10 BOSS Soldiers show up. We had pizzas, hot wings, dip, and we had a big screen outside, but no one was even there.”
Quitugua added that all BOSS events are open to single parents, as well, but that parents should make the decision on what event is appropriate or not for their children.
The enlisted leaders offered up ideas for helping to spread the word on BOSS and what on-post organizations do for Soldiers, such as emails on BOSS activities and a rodeo where the organizations explain to Soldiers what they have to offer them.
Capps added that each unit has a BOSS representative, and that Soldiers can check with them on what the program is doing.
Wilson and Quitugua also recommended that Soldiers download and use the Digital Garrison app, available on the App Store and Google Play. The app includes information about on-post happenings, explains what each organization offers and points of contact. Soldiers can also change the garrison they want information on if they PCS or go TDY there.
For more information on BOSS, call 255-9810.
For information on ACS programs, visit https://rucker.armymwr.com/programs/army-community-service or https://www.facebook.com/FtRuckerACS.