Military News

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Volunteer work opens new doors for PFC

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

3/5/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "I didn't know I had been selected until I received a platoon-wide text message which read:
Congratulations Private First Class Mehring, you've been selected to be the BOSS president; please be in your office at 0900."

"I sat down and, at first, was very lost," said Spc. Natalie Mehring, of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, U.S. Army Alaska, and president of Better Opportunities for Single Service members. "It's a whole different dynamic to being a representative."

BOSS is an organization designed to enhance the quality of life for single Soldiers and Airmen. BOSS provides activities for the junior-enlisted force - like all-terrain vehicle trips, hiking trips and local events at discounted prices.

"We boost service members' morale by hosting events that take them out of their barracks," Mehring said. "So they get to truly see the beauty of Alaska."
As a volunteer-oriented program, BOSS also provides an opportunity for junior-enlisted to make a difference in their community and stand out as leaders while they do it.

One such program is Joint Base Against Drunk Driving, which provides free rides to ensure service members can make it home safe after a night out on the town. JBADD averages 10 to 20 safely transported service members every weekend.

Mehring earned the position of BOSS president, a slot normally reserved for noncommissioned officers, as a private first class - a direct result of her extensive volunteer work as a BOSS representative for her unit.

"As representatives, we would take notes of upcoming events; ideas for upcoming events; and issues people would bring up regarding quality of life," Mehring said. "We would brief for five minutes at the safety brief every Friday and offer volunteer opportunities for the unit."

As a representative, Mehring organized a domestic-violence seminar which provided practical information to service members on how to protect themselves and others.

"As a representative, you push out the information, and the president tells you to to make sure everyone knows about the events," Mehring said. "As the president, I have a bigger role in what happens in the program.

"It made me nervous," she said.

By having a position fundamentally driven by leadership, Mehring is now in a position to lead in ways a junior-enlisted Soldier normally might not.

However, with opportunities come expectations.

"Due to the whole gamut of things that need to be done, you normally put that [expectation] on an NCO because they're used to doing it in their natural work environment," said Bill Miracle, BOSS advisor and program manager for the Warrior Zone. "It's rare that you get a PFC who has it together enough to handle it. She's an incredible speaker, she always knows what she's talking about and she's continually growing" Miracle said.

The role of president is a temporary duty Mehring will support until her permanent change of station.

However, within BOSS there are many opportunities service members can hop right into and begin their own path to success. One such opportunity is the role of vice president, which is considered an additional duty.

"When I first got up here, I stayed in my barracks. I didn't want to go out and I didn't know anybody. I was kind of a lost private," said Spc. Bridget Augustine, the BOSS vice president and a linguist with Delta Company, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"After becoming more involved, I became aware of the benefits it creates. I got out there and realized [BOSS] is more than just supporting single service members," She said. "It creates an awareness of all the opportunities available for us."

"What matters to me is the happiness of the service members," Mehring said. "You get here, you don't know anybody, you're alone.

"I dont ever want anybody to feel that way."

By volunteering and maintaining a positive attitude, Mehring opened the door to a unique career opportunity she can use to fuel her momentum forward.

Opportunities like this may not always go smoothly; but Mehring said it's worth the effort.

"You have to fall a couple times before you can be strong enough to stand on your own two feet," Mehring said. "So I have failed, I learned from it and I feel like where I am now is phenomenal."

For more information on BOSS and how to get involved, visit their Facebook page or call 384-9023.

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