A boost in morale: BOSS program aims to improve quality of life for single Soldiers

By Denise CaskeyNovember 7, 2022

High flying fun
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers took 22 soldiers on Aug. 26 to the DC Skydiving Center in Midland, Virginia, where they were strapped to an instructor for tandem dives. During a freefall from 10,500 feet, soldiers reached speeds of 120 miles per hour before their instructor opened the parachute. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
Memorial biking tour
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – BOSS participated in a bicycle tour Aug. 20 hosted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall FMWR around the National Mall in Washington D.C. where they visited places like the Washington Monument. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. - Established in 1989, BOSS, or Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, tries to answer the question, “How do you raise the morale of a unit?”

One key component of the BOSS program is organizing engaging leisure and recreational activities.

“The biggest thing we do is plan trips for single Soldiers, and it gets them out of their barracks room and gets them doing things they wouldn’t be doing normally,” said Sgt. Jacob Lopez, president of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall BOSS program. “It breaks up the mundane day-to-day life for the soldiers.”

Recent activities have included a trip to Marine Base Quantico for an afternoon of paint ball, skydiving at the DC Skydiving Center in Midland, Virginia and a kayaking tour around the shipwrecks in Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.

Some of the activities are paid for by the Soldiers, but BOSS is careful to make sure that there is some sort of military discount in place at the venues they choose. Otherwise funding for BOSS activities comes from a variety of sources. The skydiving and paint ball trips, for example, were paid for using funds donated by the Post Thrift store.

“Sometimes we don’t get the full amount, but we appreciate whatever is donated or given to us in grant money and sponsorship money to offset the cost to service members,” said BOSS advisor Tonya Clark.

Also, because JBM-HH is an Army and Marine joint base, BOSS frequently partners with the Single Marines Program to coordinate joint activities, and although opportunities for joint activities has been suspended because of COVID-19, Lopez said he is looking forward to seeing them start up again.

Participating in community and volunteer activities is also part of the foundation of BOSS.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when they do give to their community and when they do help out, it raises their morale. I’ve noticed this specifically in the past when I have done community service; I have definitely felt better at the end of the day, like ‘Hey! I actually did something to help people around me who may not have it as good as I do,’” said Lopez.

Helping people is one of the reasons Lopez got involved in BOSS. He said when he was first pulled into the program he thought it would be a good learning experience, but the more he thought about it, the more he could see that through BOSS he could have a positive impact on his fellow Soldiers.

“I know people have been dealing with a lot of hard times, especially with COVID. I know it brought a lot of people down and if there’s something I can do to help fix that, I’m always willing to try,” he said.

“My biggest goal is to improve Soldiers’ quality of life,” he added. “I’ve been on the front lines of dealing with Soldiers’ issues and their personal day-to-day life for the past three years as their leader in some way, and I’ve been very acquainted with a lot of the issues they go through. I think it’s kind of a vicious cycle where they come home and they’re depressed or down and they do destructive things that make them fall even deeper into a hole, and then they go to work and they get torn down even more and they just repeat that cycle over and over. If I can do something to interrupt that a little and kind of put some positivity into their lives and bring them up, I think that will go a long way.”

BOSS meetings are usually held the third Wednesday of every month in the Community Activities Center ballroom, Building 405, and are open to all service members.

“If you even consider going on a trip, I would highly recommend you do so,” said Lopez. “Just trying new things… I know a lot people kind of get stuck in those routines where they eat the same food, they do the same thing after work. They’re kind of in this schedule where it’s not going to be broken. If you just kind of change it a little bit you can find things you really enjoy that you might not have ever thought about.”

Single Marines Program puts Marine wellbeing first

Young Marines at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall have someone in their corner in the form of the Single Marines Program.

“It really has to do with Marine wellbeing," said Anna Leonovich, the SMP Coordinator, “so the idea of taking care of our own people.”

Taking care of a Marine means making sure they have an outlet for problems they may be facing, such as making sure gym hours are accommodating or issues with their barracks are being addressed and resolved.

“I don’t necessarily have any authority over making sure their stuff is taken care of at the barracks,” said Leonovich. “I can pass it along to the right people and add some extra momentum behind it, and make sure they know how to report things correctly and that they’re following up. I’m just an extra person in their corner really.”

Their wellbeing is also addressed through access to recreation and volunteer activities. Whether it’s a movie night or an activity that takes young Marines off base for a bit of fun, “we want to make sure all of our young Marines have something to do and that they’re not just sitting in their barracks room,” Leonovich said.

Among the volunteer opportunities for young Marines, and in keeping with their competitive spirit, SMP hosts a weeklong Days of Service event, usually in April, in which the Marines from JBM-HH compete with Marines from other bases to see which base can log the most volunteer hours.

SMP meets at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday at the Marine barracks and anyone is welcome to attend.