Story and photo by Rick Emert
Fort Carson’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers has grown tenfold since April, but participation in the program’s many events remains low.
The BOSS program now has more than 70 unit representatives, but its president, Sgt. Curtis Bartlett, said single Soldiers are staying away because they don’t know enough about the program.
“Stigma is the number one reason, I think,” said Bartlett, from 183rd Maintenance Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade. “When a single Soldier hears about a program that the Army offers and they may already be hating life in the Army, they say, ‘They always do dumb things like pie-eating contests, and they go on lame trips that I don’t want to go on. They make it so militarized that I feel like I’m still in uniform even when I’m not.’
“I’m trying to demilitarize the events. I’m trying to get it to where Soldiers, when they finally get to do it, realize it really is fun. It’s something to do that really is benefiting (them). It helps with retention and morale and getting the Soldiers motivated and energized about it.”
While the program is most known Armywide for its events, it also is an advocacy for issues that affect single Soldiers’ lives – such as barracks improvements, Bartlett said.
“Quality of life is what I call the backbone of the BOSS program,” Bartlett said. “When it comes down to it, when you look at the big Army, big BOSS program – the (Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) advisers are our backbone, because they keep the continuity. But, when it comes down to the actual program itself, quality of life is the backbone. MWR could handle all recreation and leisure; (Army Community Service) can handle all community service. Only Soldiers can handle quality of life issues to make their lives better.”
The program is open to single Soldiers, geographical bachelors and
single parent-Soldiers. It has been pivotal in improving barracks conditions since its inception in 1989, Bartlett said.
Based on input from the BOSS unit representatives, Bartlett is working with installation command sergeants major to deal with issues Soldiers have about the new 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, complex parking lots.
“Their parking lot is shared with a few other buildings. You’ve got all of those guys that are trying to park their cars to go into their barracks room or trying to go to brigade where they work,” he said. “You’ve got 71st Ordnance Group that’s sharing a parking lot adjacent, and they don’t have any parking for them. There’s no lighting – that’s a safety hazard and safety risk for Soldiers walking and for the drivers.”
Bartlett said such issues are exactly what the BOSS program can try to correct.
“That’s all quality of life, and that’s what the BOSS program is there for. We are the voice of the Soldier when it comes to quality of life.”
When Bartlett became president of the program in April, there were seven unit representatives. With the help of 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Kilpatrick, that number has grown to more than 70.
“My primary goal is to communicate to those individual Soldiers that I represent,” Bartlett said. “I can only do it through the (unit) representatives doing their jobs.
“That’s one of my biggest goals, to ensure that everybody’s unit is represented.”
More representatives should mean more Soldiers knowing about upcoming events, which he said can change Soldiers’ opinions of the Army.
“I hope it changes their outlook on the Army. One of our main missions is to help meet the retention mission. BOSS is one of the best programs in the Army to basically give the Soldier something better to do other than sit in the barracks, hate life and not like what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis,” Bartlett said.
The BOSS program offers tournaments every month including video-game, pool, dart and flag-football tournaments. Many of the tournaments are also open to married Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians.
A single Soldier cruise is in the works for late spring 2010, which will be open to servicemembers in the western United States from installations including Fort Carson; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Fort Polk, La.
BOSS meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at Alternate Escapes. For more information call 524-BOSS.