FORT BLISS, Texas - Better Opportunities for Single Parents is a fairly new Army tool for command teams and leaders to use when dealing with the unique issues that arise when having a soldier who is a single parent serving in their ranks.
A leadership tool is exactly how Sgt. Richard S. Carreon, president of Fort Bliss BOSP, promoted the BOSP program during a noncommissioned officer professional development session at the Family Resiliency Center July 31 by the 11th Air Defense Artillery "Imperial" Brigade.
Carreon, who is a single parent himself, said there are more than 1,700 single parents serving at Fort Bliss, and the BOSP program's first mission is to be a tool to help soldiers continue to serve, despite added stress from raising children in a one-parent home.
The program strives to help commands and NCO leadership keep their soldiers available to accomplish all unit missions added Carreon.
BOSP does this mainly by offering a various childcare options for single parents. Such options range from extended childcare beyond normal hours at Fort Bliss' Child Development Centers or with the independent CDC providers who work from home, as well as linking the single parents up with civilian childcare agencies in the El Paso area.
"By connecting soldiers and their leadership with help in developing strong family care plans, we can help leadership hold soldiers accountable when it come to issues such as mobilizing for training exercises or combat deployments," said Carreon. "Once the command feels comfortable that the soldier will be accountable to mobilize and train, they gain confidence that the stress of that soldier being a single parent will not affect the soldier's ability to serve. Giving the leadership that confidence ultimately helps that soldier and allows them to stay in the Army after becoming a single parent, if that's what they choose."
Before Carreon's presentation, Command Sgt. Maj. Byron E. Ferguson, senior enlisted leader for 11th ADA Brigade, took time to speak to all the attending NCOs about the importance of BOSP.
"Obviously (being a single parent) does affect some of the soldiers in your formations," said Ferguson. "As we try to expand this program that I believe will serve our community well, we are going to need your help to make it successful."
Success has come to BOSP since its establishment at Fort Bliss more than two years ago, as seen by the increasingly added number of units appointing BOSP representatives in their ranks –helping to spread the program's footprint.
Additionally, Carreon believes the program's success is growing through the word-of-mouth testimonies from the members who attend the BOSP meetings held during lunchtime hours the second Wednesday of every month and the additional BOSP events held, such as the upcoming back to school party scheduled for September.
The goals of the meetings and events are to educate single parents about resources available to them, provide information regarding regulations that apply to service as a single parent, and to provide a venue where the soldiers can meet others single parents in the hopes of creating strong support networks.
For information on the BOSP program, call (915) 569-5500 or visit: http://www.blissmwr.com/SPL/.
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