FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Single Paratroopers from across the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division gathered at the 2nd BCT Consolidated Dining Facility to attend a breakfast hosted by the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Feb. 13, 2013 to discuss ways to improve services and meals available, and for an introduction to the services and events provided by the BOSS program.The meal began with a presentation from Sgt. 1st Class Jammie Brooks, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the dining facility. He explained his intent to expand services to include a movie area and better meals."Why rush to get off post when you can pay $4.60 for dinner and watch a movie?" Brooks asked.He also expressed his concern for Soldiers who frequently pay to eat at off-post establishments when he can get them the same items at little to no cost to the Soldiers."Come in; accurate head count is important," Brooks said. "You can ask for steak and shrimp, but I need head count to get those specialty meals."After taking the time to explain how the dining facility operates based on head counts and availability of meals and materials, he gave the Paratroopers in attendance the opportunity to make their own suggestions and ask questions. Brooks concluded that the dining facility would continue to improve as long as more Soldiers were eating there.The primary function of the BOSS breakfast was to introduce single Soldiers of the Falcon Brigade to the events and opportunities available to them, and to reward those who attended with a raffle ticket drawing.Sgt. Virginia Leal, the 2nd BCT BOSS representative, introduced the Soldiers attending the breakfast to the BOSS program by sharing with them the benefits of getting out of the barracks and enjoying and learning new activities."The information about BOSS getting out to the single Soldiers is lacking, and that's something we're trying to remedy right now," Leal said.
Leal said she wants 2nd BCT to have the most BOSS participation on Fort Bragg. She said she hopes to also expand BOSS participation to brigade-level events to improve overall camaraderie in the Falcon Brigade."BOSS has a lot to offer single Soldiers," Leal concluded. "They offer community service and they offer activities to have fun and get to know people. They're there to support you.""For BOSS, you are our highest priority," she said.The Vice President of Fort Bragg BOSS, Spc. Ryan Perea, a Soldier assigned to the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, discussed the values and benefits of BOSS for the single Soldiers involved."Community service, recreational events, and quality of life are the three pillars of BOSS," Perea said."There are different opportunities to work with services in the area, and we're expanding to other groups as well. Currently we work with the Salvation Army and the Second Harvest Food Bank."It's a great time; it's really humbling to talk to some of the people there. I spoke to a man that was homeless who was going to the soup kitchen for food and had been a first sergeant in Vietnam," Perea said. "He was airborne and had been stationed at Fort Bragg.""His eyes would light up when we could talk about his time in the military again," Perea recalled.The second pillar, recreational events, gives Soldiers the opportunity to participate in a variety of fun activities from paint ball, to trips to Myrtle Beach, to skiing and snow boarding at little to no cost to the participants."It's a great way to meet new people and make friends," Perea said. "Even if you sign up for a trip by yourself, you will not come back from that trip alone."The third, and according to Perea, the most important pillar of the BOSS program is quality of life. "The BOSS program is primarily about improving the quality of life for every single Soldier."Those improvements to the quality of life range from giving single Soldiers a chance to try new activities and meet new people, while also providing them with the conditions necessary to preserve their resilience and mental health.
The BOSS program's other quality of life functions are related to living conditions of Soldiers in the barracks. Perea explained that on some occasions, utilities or appliances in the barracks might become nonfunctional. If the Soldier's chain of command is unable to help with a problem for any reason, the BOSS program has a direct connection with Command Sgt. Maj. Yolanda Marie Tate, the Fort Bragg garrison command sergeant major, who is extremely vigilant with Soldiers' issues."She will make sure it gets fixed immediately," Perea said.