YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — It’s not always easy to sell BOSS to the boss.

That message was sent loud and clear during 2005’s worldwide survey of representatives of the Better Opportunities for Single (and Unaccompanied) Soldiers program.

The reps, soldiers who mostly volunteer to bridge the gap between fellow troops and their leadership, responded that they didn’t receive enough command support and there was a negative perception of the program. They say although BOSS builds leadership and boosts morale, it suffers from a myth that it circumvents the chain of command.

So reps now are being asked to up the volume with their higher-ups to increase support for the program, which seeks to improve recreation, leisure, well-being and community service.

The push is coming from leaders in Virginia, who have created a rejuvenation plan, according to Robert Lattanzi, program manager for the Installation Management Agency-Korea Region. He spoke to BOSS reps from across South Korea during a quarterly meeting held Thursday on Yongsan.

The troops were told their priority should be “selling” the program to their commanders and were given a presentation to help them tailor it to area specifics.

Before the meeting, they also were sent a message from Dedria J. Porterfield, the Department of the Army BOSS Program manager, from Alexandria, Va. She said in her e-mail that mission chain of command support and involvement was a “number one concern.”

She said she met with the Army’s most senior command sergeants major on Jan. 9 to explain the program’s importance. But to gain support and change negative perceptions, she wrote, it is critical that BOSS teams worldwide to brief their own programs to commanders. “The ball is in your court to solicit help from your missions,” she wrote.

U.S. Forces Korea Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Wheeler also spoke to the gathering of 100 BOSS personnel.

“I’ve been around the block a couple of times” and seen many programs, he said. “We have probably the best, if not one of the top two or three best” in the Army.

He stressed, however, that the program can be only as effective as unit leadership will allow. He asked for help in one area, for reps “to continue within your own level of participation … within BOSS to continue to inspire, foster and push activities that allow our servicemembers healthy alternatives to overconsumption of alcohol and healthy alternatives to running (around in) the ‘ville (the communities outside the bases).

“I personally see that as ‘Job 1,’” he said.

The reps Thursday also discussed the myths that affect the perception of their program.

According to one slide, those include a belief that BOSS circumvents or substitutes for the chain of command, sets policy and operates as a private organization.

None of that is true, according to program leaders.

The reps were instructed that when briefing the commanders, they should talk about the program’s benefits.

BOSS grows leaders because soldiers are given the opportunity to lead and succeed; it increases retention of first-term soldiers, keeps troops informed, builds unit morale and contributes positively to the community, according to the presentation.

DSN contact information:

Area 1: 732-6246.

Area 2: 738-5466.

Area 3: 753-8825.

Area 4: 764-4426.

IMA-KORO: 725-6070.

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