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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — The woman who heads an Army program aimed at improving quality of life for single or unaccompanied soldiers thinks the program needs an extreme makeover.

Dedria Porterfield, director of the Army’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, says the 17-year-old BOSS program continues to face inadequate command support, sporadic participation and a large number of military members with an insufficient awareness of what it offers soldiers.

Although the program has found favor in certain “pockets of excellence,” measures are urgently needed to change its image and help surmount “challenges,” she said.

“We really do need to do an extreme BOSS makeover,” said Porterfield, who retired earlier this year as an Army command sergeant major. She spoke during a four-day Korea-wide conference that brought together more than 100 BOSS participants.

The program seeks to add to soldiers’ quality of life by sponsoring recreational and leisure events, community service projects and other activities that can contribute to the morale of soldiers who are serving tours of duty while single or unaccompanied.

Although set up for soldiers, the program is open to all servicemembers and others in military communities, Porterfield said.

The Korea conference is one of several the Army’s BOSS leadership is holding worldwide.

Porterfield outlined several prospective measures that could help achieve the makeover. One would amount to some form of information campaign aimed at ensuring that military chains of command and base communities are made aware of the program’s purpose. She said some command sergeants major have expressed surprise, and a new openness to the program, once she’s had a chance to tell them what its aims are. Another would aim at winning the support of unit commanders.

Building closer ties to the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation branch would be crucial for the BOSS program to have any steady impact on soldiers, she said.

“MWR is our gold piece,” Porterfield told the audience. “We gotta rely on MWR.”

But equally important was for the audience members themselves to do a better job of coordinating BOSS activities with MWR officials, of keeping one another informed about BOSS matters, and of making sure they pass timely word of their needs and activities to the Department of the Army BOSS team, Porterfield told them.

“The bottom line is getting the chain of command … all echelons of leadership … engaged into the program,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

“BOSS is a thriving program in all the regions,” said Robert M. Lattanzi, BOSS program manager for the the Installation Management Agency Korea Region Office in Seoul. “It has peaks and valleys, it goes up and down. We’re trying to figure out how to keep it up at a high level.”

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