By Eric E. Parris | Garrison Public Affairs
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Single service members do have a voice on Fort Carson; and if Cpl. Devon Douglas has anything to say about it, it will be loud and clear.
That voice is through the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, known as the BOSS program.
The program has been part of the Army for more than 30 years.
Douglas, the Fort Carson BOSS president, is working with the units’ BOSS representatives to revive the program.
“I want to get our voice back out there,” Douglas said. When he first arrived at Fort Carson a few months ago, he had a simple question he would ask Soldiers.
“Is there a program for single Soldiers? People would say they don’t know,” he said.
That perception is changing.
To get the pulse of single Soldiers, Douglas relied on the unit BOSS representatives to get information out about activities the program has to offer, he said. He meets with them twice a month to go over plans for future activities such as volunteering at a soup kitchen, preparing Soldiers for promotion boards, taking a cooking class or going on a ski trip.
The different activities are part of the program’s three pillars: quality of life, community service and recreation and leisure. The key is trying to find a balance between them.
“I want to make sure we shine on all three pillars,” Douglas said.
Hosting activities that single Soldiers will want to participate in can have a positive impact.
The BOSS program can provide opportunities for mentorship and life skills, said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson Command Sgt. Maj. Kenyatta L. Mack, BOSS senior enlisted adviser. In particular, he wants to see more involvement with on-post programs.
“Soldiers can earn volunteer service hours for their military volunteer service award on post,” Mack said. This allows them to achieve their volunteer hours while doing so in a safe environment.
Getting single Soldiers involved in the BOSS program needed a new sense of direction and experience, which is what Douglas brought to Fort Carson.
Douglas served as the BOSS president while stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea, from 2015-16, and at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in 2018. For his time in Korea, the program was recognized as the best in the Army.
While his hard work has paid off at previous installations, he knows it has to continue here to earn leaders’ and their Soldiers’ respect.
Douglas said he’s asking everyone to trust the team of BOSS representatives. They plan to bring positive changes to the program.
In addition to Soldiers’ participation, it takes resources to have a successful program.
Justin Glenn, the chief of the Community Recreation Division in the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), is also the civilian senior adviser for the BOSS program. He facilitates support for resources for the program.
“Anything to do with the program itself I help facilitate access to resources,” Glenn said.
“If it’s manpower, dollars, tables and chairs, whatever the inventory we have within MWR, it’s my responsibility to help the BOSS president identify what he can do and how to get those resources to support the program.”
Even though having access to resources is important, the program needs to be Soldier-centered and community driven.Through coordination with DFMWR, Douglas will have access to what he needs to run a successful program to take advantage of what Fort Carson and Colorado have to offer.
“It’s Soldier-driven; it’s Soldier-centric,” Glenn said. “There’s a benefit in volunteering and giving back to your community. There’s a benefit to participating in life skills events that are going to enhance your own personal skill set.”
For the Soldiers, getting information about activities is the responsibility of the BOSS representatives.
Spc. DeQuan Hoover, the BOSS representative for the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, said it’s about making Soldiers’ lives better.
“If I have the ability to make someone else’s life better, why wouldn’t I take that opportunity to do so?” Hoover said.
She continues to inform members of her unit about BOSS activities during closeout formations, and those she comes in contact with on a daily basis. She wants to promote life skills classes such as cooking and traveling opportunities.
Active participation in the program will go toward getting single Soldiers out of the barracks and into the community.
“I personally don’t like to see people stuck in the barracks,” said Spc. Clarisa Muniz, the BOSS representative for the 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
She wants to be that link to share information about activities and events the program has to offer. Muniz has received positive feedback about volunteer opportunities from single Soldiers in her unit.
“They are very excited about it,” Muniz said, as she referred to the responses about volunteer opportunities.
In August, there’s a volunteer opportunity every week at a local soup kitchen. There are two planned activities: skydiving and white-water rafting.
Whether it’s volunteering, taking a trip or providing mentorship to single Soldiers, the goal is to get Soldiers involved.
“That Soldiers not only want to participate but they get enjoyment out of it,” Mack said. He wants to see a level of commitment that will keep the program strong and relevant.
The program was designed to give Soldiers opportunities to meet new people, understand what it means to give back, be exposed to mentors, and learn about different skill sets and cultures, Mack said.
It comes back to caring about single Soldiers.
“We want to make sure Soldiers are taken care of,” Douglas said.