FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Here in the High Desert, there are few similarities between island life and that of the Mojave. True, both have an abundance of sand, but one feature in particular is the isolation. The fast-paced and brightly-lighted civilization we’ve come to enjoy, is roughly 40 miles away, or 45 minutes by car. But those who might see it as a burden, may have missed the opportunity it creates— Community. We all share this oasis and the resources it has to offer.
Society has drifted away from the Mayberry-like community values that many a Californian town or city have lost. Fort Irwin has the ability to break away from that, and rebuild a family like Kinship. Soldiers understand they stand apart from the 99 percent and are held to a greater standard. The families that support them have accepted a similar ideology. Together, we all share a similar bond. We are all a greater family together, regardless of backgrounds and differences.
The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, or BOSS, program is a testimonial to this very concept. It was designed in 1985 as a branch of the Family and MWR. BOSS reaches out to the single soldiers on installations after being disenfranchised or ignored to create an outlet of resources to aid in decompression, listen to their needs, teach them life skills, and revitalize their sense of purpose. In essence, the BOSS program wanted to show them they are part of a greater family, and enrich the community as a whole.
BOSS is comprised of “The Three Pillars:”
• Quality of Life: QOL is as the Moto goes, the “voice of the single soldier.” Its purpose it to listen to our soldiers, and share their needs wants and problems with the leaderships to create solutions that will improve and enrich the life and standards of the post. Where work orders simply fix what is broken, QOL builds skate parks, entertainment, and makes life just slightly more comfortable, than the day before.
• Recreation and leisure: This pillar builds events and trips to bring the entertainment of the outside world to the soldiers, or take those soldiers to the landmarks and venues of the world around us.
• Community Service: For some who come to join the service, they make a conscious choice to sacrifice who they were and to serve something greater than themselves. Selflessness is like a candle— it can be blown out if not cared for; but if ignited, will fill an entire room with light, and chase away the dark.
Serving the community can revitalize one’s sense of purpose and appreciation for those around them faster than all the praise and accolades gained otherwise. Once experienced, that person has the satisfaction of doing good for good’s own sake, and the honest appreciation for the lives that they impacted.
Lastly the foundation of these pillars is Life Skills. Army life is concerned with creation of the Soldier, training and honing those skills for the betterment of the Force and the success of the Mission. What is often unobserved, though, is the development of an adult. To be able to make responsible financial, emotional, educational, and course-changing choices, BOSS attempts to provide the doorways for our soldiers to utilize.
In essence, a soldier is only at his or her best, if the negative aspects of their lives are not distracting them from the mission, which in turn endangers them and their colleges, and invites disaster. BOSS revitalizes combat readiness, enriches the individual, increases retention, and reduces the poor life choices that lead towards depression and suicide.
Only through personal development, can society prosper as a whole, as we come together as a community of common bonds.