BOSS returns to normal

By Bardia Khajenoori
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Services at U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart continue a return to normal as health conditions improve, and Better Opportunities for Single Servicemembers, or BOSS, is no different.

That’s welcome news for a program that promotes friendship and community, but has largely been forced to hold online meetings and virtual events for much of the past 16 months.

“It’s been tough,” said Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Billy Norman, the garrison’s senior enlisted leader. “But because the community’s been diligent in getting vaccinated and is trending in the right direction, we’re now able to offer more opportunities for in-person activities.”

At the heart of those activities are the three pillars of BOSS: Quality of Life, Community Service, and Recreation and Leisure. Past events have run the gamut from on-and-off post volunteering to cooking classes and ziplining in the Black Forest. The events are designed to offer single personnel a way to get out of the barracks and spend time productively, said Norman.

Although BOSS is officially an Army program (with the second ‘S’ usually standing for ‘Soldiers’), the joint composition of Stuttgart means members of all services — including single service members, single parents, and geographical bachelors/bachelorettes — are invited to take part.

Norman believes giving back to the community and building life skills are key to the program.

“I want to present the opportunities for single service members to grow and develop, and give them opportunities they wouldn’t have in other places — fun events which tie them into the community and teach skills they can use throughout their life or career,” said Norman.

At the same time, “BOSS is also a platform to bring issues or concerns about quality of life to my attention, so I can be an advocate,” he added. That means if there are issues in barracks not being addressed or anything else that would affect single service members, call BOSS.

Sgt. Kevin Hernando, Stuttgart’s new BOSS president, sees the program as a tool to help fight against feelings of depression, isolation, or loneliness which may be harbored by service members.

“Even without COVID-19, it’s worse being alone overseas and away from home, and at a duty station with such a high operating tempo,” said Hernando. “I want people to know that I understand what they’re feeling, and give back to the ones who don’t have a voice.”

Upcoming activities are still being planned, but possibilities include a woodworking class, roller skating, a poetry slam, and castle hikes, he said.

Hernando is also in the early stages of exploring coordination opportunities with BOSS programs at other garrisons.

BOSS meetings are held the first and third Thursday of each month at the Warrior Zone in the Galaxy Bowling and Entertainment Center — a hangout space for service members.

Norman encouraged those on the fence about joining BOSS to give it a try.

“When people go, they have fun and often wish they had started coming earlier,” said Norman.