BOSS Designated Driver Program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

By Sgt. Sinthia Rosario on February 2, 2015

Don't drink and drive, buckle up and have a plan. These are just some of the things said to soldiers during a safety brief.

For the most part it works. However, there have been incidents where a soldier does not listen to their leadership or friends and accidents occur.

In an effort to help prevent soldiers from driving under the influence, the Better Opportunity for Single Service Members run the Designated Driver Program within a 15-mile radius of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This is a volunteer-based service, which servicemembers give up their time to help other soldiers. It provides service members a safe ride home when drinking, instead of getting behind the wheel and causing harm to themselves or others.

Soldiers needing a ride first need to contact them at 253.208.9169 for a ride. The BOSS volunteer will then pick up the servicemember. Finally the soldier is returned safely to the barracks at no expense.

Since the program is run by servicemembers, it is only available Friday, Saturday and on training holidays from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

"However, we make special exceptions for New Years, Brewfest, St. Patrick's Day, Oktober Fest and other popular holidays which typically promote alcohol consumption," said Spc. Jennifer R. Helm, BOSS president with the U.S. Army JBLM Garrison.

The volunteers take their responsibilities as designated drivers very seriously in order to ensure all the soldiers are picked up and taken care.

"Many of our volunteers stay past the 3 a.m. cutoff just to ensure everyone gets home safe," added Helm.

"We love the BOSS van program," said Maj. Jay I. Cash, provost marshal, JBLM. "It's good when servicemembers on JBLM contact the BOSS for a ride because that just means the likelihood of JBLM or civilian police coming into contact with an impaired servicemember behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is significantly reduced."

"So, when it's working at its best we don't even know they're there except when they pass thru the gates." He added, "This is classic battle buddy program for which the military is known for."

Servicemembers caught on or off post drinking and driving may face legal actions, fines, have on post driving privileges suspended or possibly ruin their military career.

Cash said that on post penalties for DUIs mirror that of the state of Washington as well as a couple of mandatory DoD requirements.

In order to highlight the program Cash shared the BOSS number with local departments in the event they have impaired service members needing a ride.

"The police community thinks that this is an excellent program which saves service members lives and career ... if used," said Cash. "The decision to drive drunk is generally made while impaired. If servicemembers were to make a plan to use the program before they even leave for the night I believe it would be even more successful."

For more information on the Designated Driver Program call BOSS at 253.967.5636.

Sgt. Sinthia Rosario is with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.