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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. soldiers assigned to be the “collective voice” for single and unaccompanied soldiers across South Korea returned recently from a worldwide BOSS forum.

The annual Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Forum was Sept. 11-15 at The National Conference Center in Lansdowne, Va.

The gathering was a chance to “sharpen the skills of the BOSS soldiers and to see what’s working,” said Spc. Danielle Colson, Area II BOSS Coordinator.

Mario Farrulla, Community Activity Center director and Area II BOSS advisor, and Pfc. Dwayne Kilpatrick, 41st Signal Battalion BOSS representative, were two other Area II representatives among the 12 from South Korea joining some 150 soldiers and civilians Armywide who attended the forum.

The group, created in 1989 with an emphasis on recreation, was expanded in 1991 to cover all aspects of a soldiers’ life, from recreation and leisure to well-being and community service. Commanders use the program to gauge soldiers’ morale.

In South Korea, recent outings have ranged from river rafting to a casino cruise.

Colson and Kilpatrick said they brought home ideas they hope will improve the program in South Korea.

One goal, Kilpatrick said, is to get BOSS representatives across the Korean peninsula to work together on projects “so we can piggyback.”

He said that also should let soldiers see more of the country, “to get out of the box.”

Farrulla said communication between members and the soldiers they serve is key in making the group work and that “selling our events” is crucial.

Among ideas the South Korean group presented was e-mail recruitment, in which members gather as many e-mail contacts as possible to build a contact chain.

Colson said she learned how to better plan, organize and conduct events. The most important thing she learned, she said, was that each installation differs, that “what works for one may not work for the other.”

A welcome letter told the forum participants: “As our Army transforms and modularizes, you have an increased responsibility to share and train other BOSS representatives with the information you receive at this conference.”

Area II’s “BOSS dog” — Kilpatrick in a St. Bernard costume — was another big hit. “Everyone loved it,” he said of the costume. “BOSS dog got more attention that I did.”

All three said they’ll continue to involve as many soldiers as possible with the group — not always easy given the lure of the Itaewon party district near base.

But this is the only program run by soldiers catering to their peers, they said.

That’s especially important overseas, Colson said, where soldiers’ “options are limited as to what they can do. BOSS offers alternatives to hanging out in the barracks and restricting themselves to post.”

“BOSS can be everything the soldier makes it,” Kilpatrick said. “The sky is the limit … if everyone who has a voice uses it.”

Know your BOSS

Each unit should have at least two BOSS representatives. Contact your chain-of-command for more information on becoming involved with BOSS.

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