Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers

Sgt. John D. Ortiz
Public Affairs NCO
4th Sustainment Brigade

FORT HOOD, Texas — Tired, unsure, and generally anxious are a few emotions new Soldiers feel when they arrive at their first duty station. Hundreds of miles away from home, a few phone numbers in their cell phones, and universal uncertainly accompany a new Soldier as they inprocess an installation and receive unit assignments where they will spend the next two to three years of their Army life.

In order to help single Soldiers who constitute more than a quarter of the total Army force, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program was established in 1989 to serve as a central focal point for off-duty activities.

In 1991, the Army expanded BOSS to encompass all aspects of single Soldier's lives, and later established recreation and leisure, well being, and community service as the core components of BOSS.

For the Fort Hood Installation BOSS President, BOSS is more than just another Army Program, it's a chance to take care of its members like a family.

"The program takes care of single Soldiers just like a family," said Spc. Kelli Harmon, a member of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and a Columbus, Ohio native. "The program provides activities to keep Soldiers engaged and keep them out of trouble."

"We are trying to raise awareness to gather more unit support," said Harmon. “So far it has been working. We went from having 15-20 Soldiers to having more than 60 at weekly events, and every month we continue to grow."

"But one of the biggest things preventing Soldiers from attending is they don't know about the BOSS program," she said. "There is a breakdown in communication and units don't let their Soldiers know, but it’s a quick fix by having company leadership promote the program and letting their Soldiers participate in events."

Harmon added that Soldiers who participate in BOSS have a lower record of alcohol-related and disorderly conduct incidents. Six months into her service as the BOSS president, Harmon has never had an alcohol-related incident at any BOSS function where alcohol was served.

"The program helps out first sergeants and commanders because we try and keep Soldiers engaged in whatever we are doing; whether it's having fun or giving back to the community," she said.

Helping first sergeants and commanders have easier nights where their phone doesn't ring isn't just an added benefit. BOSS also helps improve the quality of life for single Soldiers, single parents, and even geographical bachelors.

"As the BOSS president, it’s my job to find out the quality of life our members have," said Harmon. "Quality of life encompasses a lot of areas: whether it involves housing areas for single parents, hot and cold water problems in the barracks for single Soldiers, or even problems with dining facilities and gyms for geographical bachelors."

"BOSS is a program that can speed up the process of positive change," she said. "When Soldiers have genuine complaints that keep getting the run around, they can come to the BOSS program and the issue will get resolved quickly."

Meeting every first Wednesday of the month at the Phantom Warrior Center and third Wednesday at the NCO-Backbone Lounge at 1:30 p.m., the BOSS meetings are a chance to meet and greet with different unit BOSS representatives and a chance to make new friends.

"It's an awesome program," said Spc. Sadia Quint, a member of the Regimental Support Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment and native from Napa Valley, Calif. "I never participated in the Fort Hood BOSS program till a few weeks ago when I was made the BOSS unit representative. But so far it has been a great and positive program and I am excited to be a part of everything."

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FORT HOOD, Texas — More than 90 members of the Fort Hood BOSS Program pose with Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Felt, the Fort Hood Installation Garrison Command Sergeant Major and 4th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers who helped run the Leader's Reaction Course for the program after completion.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. John D. Ortiz)

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FORT HOOD, Texas — Spc. Matthew Durst, a member of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment is lifted up by two team members as he tries to jump over a four-foot obstacle during the 4th Sustainment Brigade sponsored Leader's Reaction Course for the Fort Hood Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. John D. Ortiz)

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FORT HOOD, Texas — Sgt. Michael Cox, a member of the 21st Combat Aviation Brigade grasps a rope looped around a metal pole six-feet off the ground as he attempts to swing across two wooden ledges during the 4th Sustainment Brigade sponsored Leader's Reaction Course for the Fort Hood Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. John D. Ortiz)

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FORT HOOD, Texas — Spc. Tim Hensen with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment grasps a wooden box from Pfc. Nobel Mangual, a member of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, as he lies across 4 metal rope chains suspended above a pool of water as another member of his team holds on to him to prevent him from falling into the water during a Leader's Reaction Course for the BOSS program.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. John D. Ortiz)