CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Soldiers from the Camp Zama Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, or BOSS, along with the members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Noncommissioned Officers Association, “SoYou-kai,” volunteered to clean up Zama Yatoyama Park, located near the installation, June 22.
Sgt. Jennifer Jackson, assigned to Public Health Command – Pacific and the Camp Zama BOSS president, explained that the group worked together raking leaves, pulling weeds and removing debris along walking paths.
Jackson said community service is one of the three BOSS pillars, and that the BOSS program offers the unique experience of improving the quality of life of the Army’s host-nation neighbors in Japan.
Jackson said she felt a sense of accomplishment both as a BOSS Soldier and as a person when looked around and saw the change she helped make.
“It makes me feel pride to volunteer where I work and live,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the BOSS members care about the Japanese maxim of “enhancing beauty in everything” and are planning to organize clean-ups on a monthly basis in different locations in an effort to maintain their bilateral relationship with the JGSDF and to make the community around Camp Zama a better place to live.
“My goal as president is to increase the community service events outside the gate, to not only make an environmental impact but also to strengthen the American-Japanese alliance,” Jackson said. “We may speak different languages or have different beliefs, but we all share a love of country.”
Randy Benton, the BOSS adviser, said the Soldiers who participated in the clean-up benefit by having such an outlet that allows them to meet both JGSDF members and local Japanese. They are also able to gain a familiarity with the surrounding area by seeing places they may not otherwise normally visit.
“Being able to go out in the community to see [new] faces and have conversations with the JGSDF and local community members will enhance the overall Japan experience for these Soldiers,” Benton said.
Benton said that when U.S. Soldiers participate in acts of community service such as this, the local community sees that those Soldiers “are willing to do things that are necessary to maintain the beautiful place that [they] call home” while stationed at Camp Zama.
Yuko Goto, a staff member at Zama Yatoyama Park, said one of the park’s main outreach efforts is to provide local residents with opportunities to volunteer at the park. Because of this, there is never a shortage of people who show up to do things like cleaning up.
“We are very happy that Camp Zama community members reached out to us about volunteering and worked with us today,” Goto said. “Hopefully we will see each other regularly [in the future] to continue that relationship.
Goto said she encourages the Soldiers in the BOSS program to continuously pursue volunteer opportunities in the city or prefecture in which they live, and to take the opportunity to communicate with the local community members while doing so.
“We are looking forward to working with Camp Zama community members again,” Goto said.