By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)December 15, 2009
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. - Although slimming down is a popular option for New Year resolutions, Pfc. Nicole Pena, a U.S. Army Garrison chaplain assistant and chapel funds clerk is already working on her resolution to grow the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.
Pena, who became BOSS president in May, said it is important to begin organizing the program to better serve single Soldiers on both installations.
"Basically, the BOSS program is not out in the open," Pena said, citing problems with continuity from president to president as the main reason for the program's anonymity. Bringing the BOSS program back into the spotlight is a major goal that Pena said she can't accomplish on her own.
"It can't be held by one person," Pena said of the responsibility. "Others have to put forth the effort too." BOSS representatives (each unit has two representatives) and a support staff of senior NCOs around post who mentor her, such as Master Sgt. Vickey Thompson, USAG Directorate of Logistics/Directorate of Public Works sergeant major, help in the effort.
"She (Pena) is very involved and very motivated," Thompson said. "She makes it very easy to work with her."
In addition to helping Pena familiarize herself with regulations governing the program, such as AR 215-1 (Military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs and Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities) and DA Circular 608-06-1 (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program), Thompson said she is mentoring Pena on how to work within the community.
Such work is important because of community service's standing as one of the pillars of the BOSS program, Pena said.
It also falls in line with the Army values, she added. Under her tenure as BOSS president, Pena said Soldiers have provided fruit baskets and cards for flood victims and worked with the United Service Organization to welcome returning Soldiers. Cooperation with groups is essential to all functions of the program, Pena said, due to the small number of single Soldiers on the posts.
"We piggyback on other events," Pena said. "My goal is to provide other opportunities for single Soldiers here, to provide a way for us to get out of Fort McPherson (and Fort Gillem) and do something productive."
Pena said she sometimes secures tickets for Soldiers to sporting events and band concerts from Command Sgt. Maj. Kenny Leonguerrero, USAG command sergeant major. Pena said she also works to improve Soldiers' quality of life through gatherings on the installations, which is another pillar of the BOSS program. In addition to hosting regular barbecues at the barracks, Pena also worked to connect Soldiers with host Families this Thanksgiving.
This allowed Soldiers who might not be able to travel home a chance to get in touch with a Family willing to give them a Thanksgiving dinner in a family setting.
It was an idea Pena said she learned from contact with BOSS presidents at other instillations while she attended the annual BOSS forum in Washington, D.C., in August.
"It gave me a good introduction into what BOSS is," she said. "It introduced me to what other installations are doing and what we can do." Although both posts are closing, Pena said she is positive that with help of unit representatives and senior NCOs, the BOSS program can thrive and provide a good service to Soldiers for the remaining lifespan of Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. "I'm just trying to stress the incentives it (BOSS) has," Pena said.