Fort Sill soldiers having a home away from home

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:27 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Being in the military can sometimes mean a lot of time away from family, and when the holidays roll around military orders don’t always seem to change.

This is when Fort Sill’s B.O.S.S. program comes in handy.

“B.O.S.S. is a program that was put together for the betterment of the lives of single soldiers, it stands for better opportunities for single soldiers. It has three core tenets quality of life, recreation and leisure, and community service,” Simmons said.

For those soldiers unable to fly back, or who don’t have family nearby, B.O.S.S. provides a home away from home for the holidays.

“Like on Thanksgiving we are having a thanksgiving, well friends giving. For example, where the single soldiers can come and all are welcomed,” Simmons said.

Simmons said single soldiers can sometimes get in the habit of being isolated from others after work. She said she also adopted that habit when she was stationed in Korea.

“I had a tendency to just go home after work and decompress and our boss representative in Korea was incredible and she was always like come on come out let’s go do this,” Simmons said.

While single soldiers at Fort Sill are helped by B.O.S.S., there are also new soldiers just joining the military who also need a home.

“When you join the army and then you go to basic training and AIT, it’s so new and you and you feel. Even though everyone is going through the same thing as you, it’s a real challenge and you can sometimes be like all I want is that comfort of home,” Simmons said.

Two women formerly stationed at Fort Sill are trying to provide just that.

Alyssa Bertram and Ashleigh Davis founded Freedom Writers in 2020 to help Basic Trainee soldiers go home for Christmas break.

“In 2020, when COVID happened, graduations were closed, so the trainees didn’t get to see their families for a really long time. So, we figured we could help one trainee get home this year. So, we reached out to the other group members and they were like ‘that’s a great idea, but we can do way better than that!’ And, we ended up sending 10 home that year,” Bertram said.

Ashleigh said bringing families together is what it is all about and shared a story from one of the trainees

“She said ‘I Thank you so much for bringing my husband home!’ She had just had her baby, so it was the first time meeting his child and it was just, they were so thankful,” Davis said.

A big part of why the program is needed? Most new soldiers won’t get their first paycheck for 45 days, so money can be tight for those enlisting around the holidays. A helping hand to get home can be just what they need.

“Knowing that they can’t go home and now they can go home, and they see their family and we see the pictures and just know that we helped them, I just absolutely love that,” Bertram said.

Click here if you would like to donate to send a trainee home for the holidays.