By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:
Members of Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers from different installations had the opportunity to take a trip to Washington, D.C., to assist Survivor Outreach Services staff and attend events in honor of Memorial Day from May 25 through 31 this year.
Soldiers submitted application packages for the chance to represent their installation. Pfc. Gavin Tomeny, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, the alternate BOSS representative for his unit, was Fort Bliss’ representative.
The main purpose of the trip was to help Survivor Outreach Services with Memorial Day events, but the Soldiers also saw some of the sights. Tomeny spent the week visiting national monuments such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to view the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
Survivor Outreach Services is an official Army program that supports the families of fallen Soldiers. BOSS Soldiers from installations across the world, including Japan and Korea, accompanied survivors to the cemetery to pay respects to the survivors’ loved ones.
One of the highlights of the trip for Tomeny was visiting the Armed Forces Retirement Home, where he had the opportunity to serve veteran retirees lunch and share conversation.
“It was awesome to get to meet and talk with the people that came before you,” Tomeny said. “They loved talking with current service members, telling their stories and hearing ours.”
Tomeny learned a lot from spending time with the veterans.
“My biggest take away from this trip was hearing the stories from the World War II and Korean War survivors. It was like hearing it firsthand,” Tomeny said.
Although this trip was specifically geared toward Memorial Day, a large portion of BOSS events and trips are more recreational.
Being a part of BOSS can afford Soldiers with opportunities they might not otherwise get to experience. Many BOSS trips and events cost much less for members.
“Each unit’s BOSS program has a budget for funding from the garrison that they use to pay for part of the trips,” Tomeny said. “This allows Soldiers to attend different trips at a lower rate than it would be if they were going by themselves.”
Tomeny said the organization has multiple benefits for those who participate, saving money and meeting new people.
“It’s about getting out there to experience new things, meeting new people and finding things you otherwise would not have,” Tomeny said.