The Army’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program aims to improve the morale and welfare of single Soldiers by focusing on quality of life, recreation and leisure, and community service.
Cpl. Kelly Kribs, a visual information specialist from Bay City, Mich., and the Fort Irwin BOSS president, and her council have transformed the program over the past six months.
After serving as a BOSS unit representative for more than a year, Kribs took over as the Fort Irwin BOSS president in summer 2022 upon selection by the garrison and installation command sergeants major.
Though Kribs initially had doubts about taking the position, she knew she had what it takes to succeed, she said.
“I’m out in the community, I’m involved in events, [and] I have organizational skills,” Kribs said. “You need someone who can brief every week and walk up to random Soldiers at the motor pool or at Shock Wave and say ‘Hey, do you guys know what BOSS is, [and are] you interested?’”
Kribs’ passion and enthusiasm for the program influenced others to join and step into leadership roles.
Cpl. Dillon Agnew, a medic with 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, joined BOSS as a unit representative after arriving to Fort Irwin last summer, and became the Fort Irwin BOSS vice president in September 2022.
“When Cpl. Kribs took over … she showed that you could be passionate about the program, you could pull all your energy into it and seeing the change in the program with her and the motivation to get other reps involved [is] when I started talking to her [about council positions],” Agnew said. “I always like helping people, it’s one of the reasons I became a medic and BOSS was just another opportunity to help Soldiers out.”
The executive council of the program is comprised of Soldiers from most of the units on the installation including Operations Group, 11th ACR, and 916th Support Brigade, providing valuable insight that helps plan around the units’ varying work schedules, according to Agnew.
“I stepped into the role of vice president to help out and see what we could do to further the program,” Agnew said. “Now we’re filling every weekend [and] every opportunity we get with events and BOSS buses even if it’s just to the mall, to help those Soldiers out.”
Events for Soldiers are important, Kribs said.
“Getting Soldiers off post and meeting new Soldiers from different units every weekend is a really exciting thing,” Kribs said. “I think it’s really important for Soldiers to be out and engaged rather than just sitting in their barracks room staring at a wall or playing video games.”
Providing safe, reliable transportation for Soldiers who are constantly on mission due to the demanding work schedule of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin is something Agnew and his team at BOSS are happy to provide, he said.
“That’s why I believe BOSS is so important, because we are always on mission and [in] those little breaks we get, a lot of Soldiers just end up not having the motivation to go out and do anything because it’s an hour just to get off post,” Agnew said. “We take people out who just want to get out for the weekend and then they experience these amazing opportunities, and it enriches their experience here at Fort Irwin which increases morale and really upholds those three pillars of the BOSS program that helps the single Soldiers.”
Agnew, a Huntington Beach, Calif. native, said he uses his experience growing up in southern California to provide an insight into events.
“We’re pulling on the information and knowledge of the people who grew up here to get those unique experiences in and we’re also constantly hunting across the Internet for events coming up within our radius,” Agnew said.
Finding events isn’t hard, according to Kribs.
“A lot of Soldiers have the mindset that we are in the middle of nowhere, but in my opinion, we are in the middle of everywhere,” Kribs said. “There are so many things and experiences for us to have out here and as long as people give me the ideas and they tell me what they want to do, I can almost always make it happen.”
The BOSS team also takes recommendations for events on their Discord page, which has grown since Kribs took over as BOSS president, she said.
Through Discord, Soldiers can also find out about events and sign up for volunteer opportunities.
Both Kribs and Agnew said they were proud of the haunted house that the BOSS team built and ran in October.
The event helped raise money for the program and brought together Soldiers who earned volunteer hours for their work.
“When you get to go out and do these projects and you get to help the community, it gives you a sense of purpose and drive and it’s really good for things like mental health,” Agnew said. “Not only that, you get the camaraderie of working with those likeminded people that want to help the community and drive a better Fort Irwin for everybody.”
Kribs said her goal for the program is to continue to grow it.
“I want every Soldier to know about [the BOSS program] and I want every Soldier to be informed,” she said.
Kribs said she also wants to reach out to the single parent population and any unaccompanied Soldier to let them know they can participate in BOSS events, too.