Fort Drum BOSS challenges 10th Mountain Division Soldiers to ‘Face the Board’
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Si Di, with 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, practices the correct way to render a salute in front of a promotion board with assistance from 1st Sgt. Silvano Carcamo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant, 10th Mountain Division (LI) during the “Facing the Board” session Feb. 8 at the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Center. The BOSS program currently offers two different leader development classes for Soldiers. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Michael Strasser) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Drum BOSS challenges 10th Mountain Division Soldiers to ‘Face the Board’
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers attending the “Facing the Board” class at the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Center receive tips from noncommissioned officers while practicing a mock board appearance. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Michael Strasser) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Drum BOSS challenges 10th Mountain Division Soldiers to ‘Face the Board’
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Si Di, with 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, appears before a panel of noncommissioned officers Feb. 8 at the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Center to practice for her upcoming board appearance. The Fort Drum BOSS program offers the “Facing the Board” session for 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers to provide them with tips, guidance, and a mock board rehearsal. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: Michael Strasser) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Feb. 12, 2024) -- Oftentimes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers visit the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Center to relax, watch a movie, or play a game after their duty day ends.

So, it’s unusual to see a group of tense, visibly nervous service members in this environment, even though the reason they were on edge was completely normal.

They were preparing for their first promotion board.

The Fort Drum BOSS Program offers a monthly “Facing the Board” session for Soldiers seeking their promotable status to practice for their board appearance, glean some tips from senior noncommissioned officers, and – more importantly – ease some of the anxiety inherent in this military rite of passage.

“The purpose of this is to give Soldiers familiarization before going to the promotion board,” said 1st Sgt. Silvano Carcamo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company first sergeant, 10th Mountain Division (LI). “We want to give them a really good representation of what they will experience because we want them all to succeed.”

Carcamo said he remembered how he physically shook during his first board appearance, standing before a panel of senior NCOs. But he assured Soldiers that while they are going to be stringently critiqued, it won’t be as bad as they think.

“You are going to be standing in front of people who are judging you, but they are trying to get you to be brave and be confident,” he said. “That’s all they want. If you are going to a board, you must bring your A-game and go in with confidence.”

Details matter – how the Soldier knocks on the door and enters the room, renders a sharp salute to the president of the board and maintains composure during the Q&A. That can be as nerve-wracking as perfectly reciting the Creed of Noncommissioned Officers or being able to speak intelligently on national and international headlines.

“When you walk through those doors, you already have promotable status,” Carcamo said. “Now it is up to you whether you give it up or not. No member of the panel is going to trick you or trip you up. They are going to ask you things you should know.”

Before each Soldier rehearsed a mock board appearance, Carcamo and Master Sgt. Jeremy Barbee, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Safety NCO, reviewed how they should prepare their uniforms, consult with their sponsors, prepare a brief personal biography, and brush up on current events.

Spc. Ely Miller said, for him, the difficulty comes from not knowing what questions will be asked.

“It could be anything from unit history and division history, how to counsel a Soldier, first aid, drill and ceremony ... it’s a lot,” he said. “You never know what they’re going to ask you.”

Miller said that group study sessions have helped, but he also studies an hour or two by himself every night.

“Whenever I have the time, I’ll go over something,” he said. “I’ve been listening to the NCO Creed when I’m in my car.”

Miller said it is also helpful to think of it as a learning experience, because Soldiers don’t always pass their first board appearance.

“If you pass, that’s great, but failure is a part of learning,” he said.

Spc. Si Di, with 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, high-fived a friend after leaving the board room, where moments ago she sat ramrod straight on a chair, making no movement other than shifting eye contact to whoever was asking her a question.

“That was a really good experience for me,” she said afterward. “I was pretty nervous because normally I’m a shy person, so I had to get out of my comfort zone.”

She received mostly positive feedback from the NCOs, with only a few suggestions for improvement. They were impressed with how she spoke about her personal life, being raised in a refugee camp in Thailand and then immigrating to the U.S. when she was 13. At 21, her mother suggested she enter military service.

“My mom told me that I should give back to the country who gave us our freedom, because we didn’t have that in our country,” Di said.

Di mostly studies for the board on her own, but she practices Q&As with her friend, who also attended the board rehearsal.

“We’re working together because we both want to be better Soldiers,” she said. “I’m feeling more confident now. But I am going to work on my studies some more, going over regulations and situational questions they might ask.”

Carcamo said the class has a proven success rate with Soldiers passing the board. Typically, a session will have a half dozen in attendance, but he recalled one time when 16 Soldiers filtered through the mock board. The “Facing the Board” session is open to all Soldiers, with a Memorandum of Instruction submitted a week prior to the event.

For more information, call the BOSS Center at (315) 772-7807.

Soldiers have another opportunity to meet with Carcamo on Feb. 21 when he hosts a Leaders Development Class at the BOSS Center.

“This is to help Soldiers progress in their careers,” said Sgt. Shamela Perera, Fort Drum BOSS president. “They can learn about Army regulations and how to be successful in their careers. We thought this would be a great way to reach out to Soldiers and give them some time to meet with the first sergeant and ask any questions that can help them in their careers.”

In previous sessions, Perera said Soldiers asked about training opportunities, different schools they could attend, and promotion opportunities.

“First Sgt. Carcamo touches on different topics at these meetings, such as counseling statements, fraternization, suicide prevention, and I think the next one is going to be the H2F (Holistic Health and Fitness) program,” Perera said.

To register for the class, visit the BOSS Center in Bldg. 10650 on 5th Armored Division Drive. Visit www.facebook.com/bossfortdrum or call (315) 772-7807 to learn about upcoming classes and events.