Sgt. Melissa Stewart
3rd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
Post officials held the annual Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers conference last week at the Fort Drum BOSS center to inform unit representatives about the programs offered to single Soldiers living in the barracks.
BOSS aims to enrich single Soldiers’ lives by getting them involved in community service, leisure and recreational opportunities, while also giving them the chance to voice their concerns about barracks life through the proper channels.
“The BOSS program is the voice of the Soldier,” said Sgt. Bradley Johnson, Fort Drum BOSS president. “It gives the single Soldier opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns to the higher command.”
Fort Drum leaders say Soldiers don't always take full advantage of the BOSS program. The recent conference sought to address this issue while also attempting to revitalize the program.
“What we want is to have a vibrant program that empowers Soldiers so that they feel like they are part of a large collective group that they are the voice of,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Oldroyd, Fort Drum garrison command sergeant major.
During the conference, which ran all day Thursday and Friday, unit BOSS representatives learned about the various programs available to Soldiers. They were told about upcoming activities and how to involve their Soldiers in the program.
“(BOSS representatives) are the ones that are helping us get the word out about what the BOSS program is truly about, which is helping the single Soldier with any issue they might have,” said Michelle Roden, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's senior program BOSS adviser.
Currently, the BOSS conference takes place once a year, but Fort Drum leaders want to start holding a quarterly conference to ensure that single Soldiers get more involved.
“The garrison sergeant major wants to start doing it quarterly, (to) let our BOSS representatives know what we are (expecting from them),” Roden said.
BOSS encourages unit cohesion and esprit de corps by providing Soldiers with opportunities to get out of the barracks, socialize with other single Soldiers and the community, and experience what the local area has to offer.
Out of the nearly 9,000 single Soldiers on Fort Drum, only a fraction currently participates in the BOSS program.
“Weekly, we probably get about 400 Soldiers in our center,” Roden said. “With our trips, the participation is increasing, because we are coordinating with our single Soldiers to see what they want to do.”
The program not only helps single Soldiers get out of the barracks and involved in the community, but it also can help prevent problems that can occur with single Soldiers by encouraging a safe outlet for socialization and leisure.
“It will help prevent sexual assault, it will help prevent suicide, and it will help Soldiers transition out of the Army,” Johnson said.
Fort Drum BOSS facilities are located on Nash Boulevard and in a newly opened center at the Jack T. Sweet complex on North Riva Ridge Loop. The centers host regular physical training competitions, monthly races and trips.