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Home | Tag Archives: fort bliss

Tag Archives: fort bliss

Rain or Shine, 1-1 CAV ‘Goes Live’ for Table IV Gunnery Training

DOÑA ANA RANGE, N.M. – One after the other, 16 gunners scanned the range for targets from the turrets of Bradley Fighting Vehicles. When one popped up, their eyes locked on it with one intention: to make a solid hit with the best means available.

In this case, that meant the M242 Bushmaster 25mm Chain Gun, loaded with M910 TPDS-T or M793 TP-T rounds, or the M240 machine gun, loaded with 7.62mm rounds.

This was Table IV gunnery training with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Range 66B Oct. 12, 2018. Sgt. 1st Class Ty Tyner, 1st Platoon platoon sergeant and troop Bradley master gunner, said the aim was to increase the troop’s lethality.

“This is important because ultimately we are training to be able to fight wars, so this is the basics of learning how to operate your Bradley and work as a crew to efficiently use equipment to take it to the enemy,” Tyner said.

Lt. Col. Jon Genge, commander, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., was on site for the training and said the unit’s gunnery tables are designed to bring Soldiers basic, fundamental training that will make them proficient for war.

“We’re seeing if all the springs and all the levers, if they’re all lubricated and they all work,” Genge said. “We’re seeing if you can you make it actually get the 25mm rounds into the feed shoot up into the weapon.”

Table IV is the first table where Soldiers use live rounds to prepare them for Table VI, their qualification table, Genge said, and the targets for Table IV are actually smaller than they are for Table VI.

The half-scale targets work well for training Soldiers to identify vehicles and targets, and Tyner designed it that way so Soldiers would be fully prepared for the rigors of Table VI, Genge said.

In addition, the training builds the troop’s strength as a whole, said Capt. Kevin Graham, commander, Troop C, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt.
“Along with our crew lethality, we’re also building our maintenance processes to get (the troop’s Bradleys) back up and operational. So that way when we go shoot in January, we can be successful,” Graham said. “A lot of maintenance is happening.”

First Lt. Greg Walker, Troop C executive officer, said the purpose of cavalry units such as 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. is to conduct reconnaissance so brigade leaders can develop well informed plans.

Bradley crews consist of a commander, driver and gunner, but they also carry cavalry scouts who can dismount and gather information, Walker said.

“The way it works is the Bradleys will pull up to what’s called the ‘stream line’ and they’ll start to gather information on what they see and engage if necessary,” Walker said. “If not, depending on the type of reconnaissance we’re performing, we’ll push out the dismounts and the dismounts will go establish ops even further forward.”

Spc. Gavin Tomeny, who has been assigned to Troop C for two years and has been through gunneries and deployments with the unit, said gunnery training allows Soldiers to work through unexpected issues.

“I think the biggest thing is getting the guys the hands-on experience with actually shooting the Bradleys and knowing how the weapon works, how the weapon shoots, knowing what happens and what they need to do when there is a malfunction,” Tomeny said. “There are a lot of things that until you’re actually in the middle of something, and it happens while you’re trying to engage a target, (you don’t know how to fix). You get a better learning experience from all that.”

Author+Photographer: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs

Fort Bliss WTB Physical Therapist Awarded DOD’s Spirt of Hope

Fort Bliss’ own, Louis Cortez, a physical therapist with the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), was honored with the Spirit of Hope Award at the Pentagon, by Col. Erik Rude, commander, William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

The award, named after the late comedian Bob Hope, is presented to one individual or an organization selected by each branch of service as well as an honoree from the Office of the Secretary of Defense who characterize the values Hope embodied: duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity, and selfless dedication.

“Today’s honorees embody that commitment, they embody that spirit, and they embody the best attributes of (Hope),” said Michael Rhodes, Director of Administration and Management, Office of the Secretary of Defense. “You serve those who protect this nation, you serve those who protect the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis, so it is an honor to publicly thank and recognize these patriots for what they do for our nation to improve the lives of our troops.”

Cortez, an El Paso native who studied physical therapy in the Netherlands, has worked alongside hundreds of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers with the WTB for the past three years, providing Soldiers an innovative and individual-based approach to physical therapy, resulting in many making full recoveries from debilitating injuries and physical combat-related trauma.

Louis Cortez, physical therapist, Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion, assists Staff Sgt. Franklin Beardsley, a California National Guardsman assigned to the WTB recovering from knee surgery, with proper form during the rehabilitative strength and conditioning program at the WTB, Oct. 2. | U.S. Army photo by Marcy Sanchez

“My mission is to help any ill or wounded Soldiers to recuperate or return to the fight, and if they can’t I help them recuperate as much as they can to become productive veterans,” said Cortez. “I show them that they may not be the same person they were before but there’s many more things they are able to do.”

For almost a year and a half, Cortez’ commitment to Soldiers has helped one Soldier’s return to duty, after suffering multiple injuries and surgeries to his shoulder in addition to being diagnosed with asthma.

“(My unit) sent me to the Warrior Transition Battalion, and I met (Cortez) and from day one we started working on the shoulder which only had about two to three percent range of motion,” said Spc. Ricardo Cabrera-Murphy, a Soldier in transition with the WTB. “I couldn’t even do anything (due to his injuries) not even wash myself, my wife had to help.

“When I got here that’s when everything started changing, (the physical therapy team) started rebuilding me to get me back to where I was,” said Cabrera-Murphy, a native of Carolina, Puerto Rico.

While doubting a successful recovery, Cabrera-Murphy and his family began to plan for his separation from the Army, despite his desire to continue service.

“After the first surgery I was still confident, after the second I thought ‘that’s it for me, I won’t be able to go back to work’,” said Cabrera-Murphy. “As time went on, the shoulder got better and eventually got 85 percent range of motion, I passed my (physical fitness test) and getting back in the fight.”

Cabrera-Murphy credits Cortez and the Fort Bliss WTB for his return to the Force, stating the command continuously emphasized proper recovery and determination.

“I’m so excited because if it wasn’t for (Cortez), I wouldn’t be going back to work,” said Cabrera-Murphy. “(Cortez) is dedicated to the Soldiers, giving them that personal care and not letting anything get by him.”

For Cortez, who has been practicing physical therapy for 20 years, the award was unexpected and came as a surprise after he was selected, but Cortez gives full credit to the Fort Bliss WTB and his coworkers who share a common objective: to make a difference.

“I think the whole WTB deserves recognition because we all do a great job and have a part in taking care of the Soldier,” said Cortez. “This award was unexpected but what gives me the greatest pleasure in my job is making a difference in the Soldiers’ lives and that’s what’s most important to me.”

According to the award citation, Cortez’ reputation as a competent, passionate and effective physical therapist gained the attention of installation leaders and was sought after by the 1st Armored Division to assist with improving the rehabilitative strength and conditioning programs across Fort Bliss, significantly increasing the readiness posture of 1st Armored Division and the U.S. Army as a whole.

“I push the Soldiers to better themselves physically, but when I see them bettering themselves and working harder, it motivates me to work harder for them, it’s back and forth with me,” said Cortez. “The best part of my job is when a Soldier says ‘Thank you. You have helped me through this hard time and you gave me some sort of hope that I can do something with myself’.”

The Spirit of Hope Award was established in 1997 and has been presented to various service members, civilians, organizations and even celebrities such as Kelly Pickler, Toby Keith and Gary Sinise.

“In the past, our honorees have been national or international organizations, possibly world recognized. They’ve been regional or local organizations that maybe only those around them know by name. But, what they all had in common is the fact that they recognize the critical importance of supporting the quality of life of our military personnel and their families,” said Rhodes, during the awards ceremony. “(Hope) and his family will always hold a special place in this Nation and especially in the hearts of the men and women who wear the uniform, who are willing to risk their lives for whatever the Nation may require of them.”

The Department of Defense awarded five individuals and one organization with the Spirit of Hope Award during an awards ceremony at the Pentagon, September 28.

Author: Marcy Sanchez–  William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Mills Commando Competition: 12 Teams Give it Their All for Fallen Service Members

Each year, retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tommy Mills of El Paso asks himself how the organizers of the competition in his son’s name could possibly do better, but each year, they find a way.

This year was no exception for the Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Mills Commando Competition, with the largest number of teams ever participating in the fifth annual competition that honors our nation’s fallen.

The competition is named after an El Paso native and Green Beret who was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, when he died Sept. 16, 2009, after his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

“To say that we are honored and we appreciate what you do for our fallen, with our son’s name on it, I can’t thank you any more,” said Tommy Mills, as he spoke at the competition’s closing ceremony at 1st Lt. Paul A. Noel Parade Field at Fort Bliss Saturday.

Other family members in attendance included Joshua’s mother Celeste and his son Malaki, 9, who attended for the first time this year and not only got to hand out coins to the winners, but also visited with participants throughout the competition and received a tour at the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.

Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Dean, a Special Operations recruiter and organizer of the competition, said 12 teams of four competed this year, with new categories that included law enforcement and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.

The competition, which took place Friday (September 28) and Saturday (September 29) at Fort Bliss, included a set of difficult exercises that had to be completed in 80 minutes; a five-mile run that had to be completed in fewer than 40 minutes; a stress shoot with five events at McGregor Range, N.M.; all the obstacles at the Air Assault Obstacle Course (timed); and a six-mile ruck march with a minimum 40-pound ruck that included carrying water cans, ammo crates and litters, Dean said.

It ended with four Soldiers assigned to the Black Daggers Parachute Demonstration Team parachuting onto the parade field before the closing ceremony.

This year’s winners included Joint Task Force-North, the top Fort Bliss team; 19th Special Forces Group, the number one Special Forces unit; Team One from the University of Texas at El Paso ROTC, the best ROTC team; and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, the best law enforcement team.

In addition, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ricardo Luna, assigned to JTF-N, won the upper body round robin individual competition for the second year in a row. Derek Nepo, assigned to the 19th SF Group, was the top shot in the stress shoot.

Maj. Adam Antonini, a member of the JTF-N team, said the turnout from all the Fort Bliss units was impressive.

“Competing in the JMCC was a great opportunity to spend two days honoring an NCO who gave his life in defense of the American people,” Antonini said. “Seeing the Mills family in attendance at every event really motivated us to do our best.”

It’s important that the Fort Bliss community continues to support the event year after year, Antonini said.

Several 1st Armored Division units also participated, and Sgt. Armand Spencer, assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD, said the competition made him a better Soldier.

“I just love competitions and showing what you’re made of,” Spencer said. “It gives you that gut check and it’s a good way to represent our battalion.”

Author & Photographer: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office  

‘Soldier Dolls’ Shortens Distance for Dakota Squadron at Fort Bliss

Deployment readiness does not fall solely on the shoulders of a Soldier alone. Family members of deployed Soldiers also have to prepare for the emotional strain at home while they’re separated from their Soldiers for an extended period of time.

One tactic being used by Dakota Squadron is the distribution of Soldier dolls to Families of Soldiers preparing for the unit’s upcoming deployment.

Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Funk and his assistant Spc. Monroig, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry “Dakota,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division facilitated the Soldier Doll distribution, Sept. 27, which is designed to shorten the distance between Families and their Soldiers during the unit’s deployment to the Republic of Korea this fall.

“The idea behind it (Soldier Doll Program) is for the dolls to be picked up by the parents and then the photo is inserted into the doll (for their children) to shorten the distance a little for the Soldiers while they’re deployed,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Funk, chaplain for 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

Sgt. Christopher Smith, cavalry scout with 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division and father of a one-year old son and six-year old daughter, is grateful for the program.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone that worked on getting the dolls,” said Smith.

Smith also discusses other events orchestrated by the unit’s family readiness group and ministry team for Families.

“We’ve had a lot of family events that have been going on throughout the Squadron. We had the Spouse Spur Ride a couple weeks ago, and we got to go on a (Strong Bonds) couples retreat, about a month or so ago,” Smith added.

Katie Lubischer, family readiness group leader for Damage Troop, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment is also very excited about the Soldier Doll program and adds insight from an expecting mother’s perspective.

“I think it’s great. We have a lot of wives that are expecting to give birth, including myself, while they’re gone,” said Lubischer. “I think it’s a great thing to put the picture in so they (the children) can get used to the face.”

A strong support network is important during times of separation and Lubischer and the rest of the Squadron’s Families are ready for the task.

“We’ve built up such a great support network and we also have a lot of events coming up including our Trunk or Treat, I’m so excited,” said Lubischer. “There’s so many things to look forward to and so many things that we’re providing the families with, so I think it’s going to be a great deployment.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

Fort Bliss Physical Therapist receives Spirit of Hope Award

To say Luis Cortez is dedicated to his job is an understatement. As a physical therapist with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss, Luis Cortez, has an open door policy and answers his cell phone 24 hours a day for his beloved Soldiers. His commitment ion to his job and Soldiers was recognized recently when he received the Spirit of Hope Award.

The Spirit of Hope Award was established in 1997, and is named after actor and comedian Bob Hope who entertained U.S. troops for decades and was named an honorary veteran. The award recognizes Americans who share Hope’s enthusiastic patriotism, compassion and admiration for the men and women who support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Past recipients of the Spirit of Hope Award include singer Toby Keith and actor Gary Sinise.

Cortez, one of six individuals awarded this year, received the award for his support, positive attitude and flexibility to often go above and beyond his call of duty to assist wounded ill and injured Soldiers.

“When I received the award I was a bit emotional because I remembered all the Soldiers that are and have been under my care and the fight they have had to improve their physical situation,” Cortez said. “I am incredibly honored, it was so unexpected and to be given an award by my peers makes it even more special. I give my all to the people I serve.”

For the past three years, Cortez has tailored his physical therapy program based on the individual Soldier’s specific needs while incorporating innovative techniques depending on their limitations within the adaptive reconditioning program. From implementing therapy programs to managing equipment, Cortez says helping the Army’s wounded, ill and injured is like helping a family member.

“My job is to push and encourage the Soldiers. However, I’m right there with them doing the same activity whether it’s giving them physical therapy, cycling or strength and conditioning. I want them to perform to the best of their ability,” Cortez said.

Cortez is doing what he loves and trying to be a positive source for the Soldiers he works with.

“Soldiers are the most appreciative people and I try to instill in them that they should never give up. If you keep fighting you are giving yourself a choice to either maintain or improve but if you stop and give up then you eliminate those options.”

Author: Annette P. Gomes – Warrior Care and Transition

New Audiology Booth Supports East Bliss Readiness

“Say again… Over.” “Say again… Over.” Radio static may be the culprit for some miscommunication, but at times hearing loss may be to blame.

As part of the U.S. Army Hearing Program, Soldiers are required to take a hearing test, attend a hearing conservation briefing, and get fitted for hearing protection annually. To increase Soldier readiness on Fort Bliss, William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s East Bliss Health and Dental Clinic is slated to debut a new eight-station hearing booth, October 1.

The hearing booth will allow Soldiers assigned to the clinic, approximately 5,700, to conduct hearing exams near their Area of Operations while relieving congestion at other clinics through the Fort Bliss footprint.

“The brigade here was going to (Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza Soldier Family Care Center), this will alleviate the strain of trying to get everybody into that one clinic,” said Capt. Lydia Malloy, an audiologist and chief of the Fort Bliss Army Hearing Program. “Access to care is going to be better, hearing readiness is going to be better, all around a good thing.”

According to the Army Public Health Command, Soldiers may be subject to impact noise topping decibel (dB) levels at 175 – 180 dB, a range well above the safe limits of 85 dB for continuous noise and 140 dB for impact noise.

“The reason for the Army hearing program is to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, if we can identify shifts (in hearing capability) early then we can change the behavior to keep it from becoming a problem,” said Malloy. “Eventually that problem may affect someone’s career when you hit a certain point.”

The East Bliss Clinic offer a full spectrum of services from dental to behavioral health but has lacked audiology services since opening its doors six years ago.

“(The addition of the booth) will allow Soldiers to complete their physicals, enhance medical deployability while facilitating a much needed service within walking distance and in their medical home,” said Jackie Beard, clinical nursing officer in charge, East Bliss Health and Dental Clinic. “The booth will also alleviate some of the demands on the other test sites and meet missions.”

The eight-station booth joins two other hearing conservation booths already in use in other primary care clinics throughout Fort Bliss.

The Army Hearing Program consists of four components: hearing readiness, operational hearing services, clinical hearing services, and hearing conservation.

According to Malloy, survivability and lethality also drive hearing conservation amongst Soldiers, to maximize human potential during stressful situations such as combat.

In addition to safeguarding Soldier’s hearing, the new addition to the clinic also improves unit readiness by reserving more time for mission requirements in lieu of medical examinations.

“This booth will have a positive effect on Soldiers’ clinical needs, the installation and overall missions,” said Beard. “We are always forward thinking with new innovative ways to deliver excellent clinical care to our soldiers.”

Author: Marcy SanchezWilliam Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

Gallery+Story: Ft. Bliss Soldiers Earn German Proficiency Badge

Fort Bliss soldiers tested their fitness levels and soldier skills while getting a chance to earn a prestigious honor from a key partner nation.

About 130 soldiers went through a series of mental and physical challenges over five days and tested for the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, or German Proficiency Badge for short.

One hundred and six soldiers made the cut and earned the badge, which comes in three classifications – bronze, silver and gold, with gold being the highest.

For U.S. soldiers, it was a way to shake up their training and also learn how the German military operates and trains. The proficiency badge is one of the foreign military badges that American soldiers can wear on their dress uniforms.

For the German Air Force, it is a way to say thanks for decades of hospitality and support at Fort Bliss.

Spc. Sarah Hernandez, from El Paso, said it was an amazing experience to be able to compete for the badge. Hernandez, a graduate of Santa Teresa High School, is a combat medic by trade and works at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in the surgical recovery ward.

Going through the testing for the German Proficiency Badge was a great way to sharpen up her soldier skills and get back to basics, Hernandez said.

“It is great. I love it,” Hernandez said. “In the hospital, you go through phases where you feel a little less like a soldier — doing more civilian-type medical procedures.

“And to be given this opportunity, it gives you a reminder that this is who I am first,” Hernandez said.

Candidates for the German Proficiency Badge went through four varied tests of skills.

They started out doing a 100-meter swim in uniform, but without boots.

German organizers say this is often the toughest test for American soldiers.

They then were challenged during a German physical fitness test – which consists of a shuttle sprint, a timed hanging event from a chin-up bar and a 1,000-meter run.

Next, they were tested on their marksmanship skills using German pistols.

They finished up with a ruck march carrying more than 30 pounds. The length varied – from around 4 miles to 7.5 miles — depending on which classification of the badge they were going for.

The testing was held during regular physical training hours in the morning, so it didn’t interfere with soldiers’ everyday duties.

The German air force conducts testing at Fort Bliss for the proficiency badge and a separate marksmanship badge several times a year.

It is a way to say “thank you” to their American hosts for more than 60 years of partnership at Fort Bliss, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Zantis, the senior enlisted leader for the German air force at Fort Bliss.

“We get so much from Americans at Fort Bliss,” Zantis said. “They help us with everything we need. This is one of the things we can give back.”

The Germans have had a presence at Fort Bliss since 1956. In recent years, they have been downsizing. The German Air Force shut down its North American command center at the post in September 2013.

The Germans have continued to operate their air defense center, but have plans to eventually move that to Germany. The air defense center, however, will stay at Fort Bliss to at least 2022.

Staff Sgt. Patrick Lopez, of Shelton, Wash., said he had a great time while testing for the German badge.

“It is awesome,” said Lopez, who is part of the 1st Training Support Battalion, 364th Regiment.

“I am totally honored to be here and be a part of this,” Lopez added. “It is amazing. It is a lot better than I thought it would be. I didn’t know what to expect. I’m having a great time.”

Lopez’s unit is based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., but is here at Fort Bliss for a yearlong assignment.

Second Lt. Jerome Jones, of Baltimore, said the testing was a lot tougher than he expected.

“Honestly, it is difficult,” said Jones, a member of the 93rd Military Police Battalion.

“I thought we could come out here and do this with no difficulties, that it would be easy. It’s not,” Jones continued. “The Germans have a difficult test. I am glad to be able to participate in it.”

***

Author: David Burge – Special to the Herald-Post | Photos by Steven Cottingham – El Paso Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer at ABC-7 in El Paso. He has more than three decades of experience writing for newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

Workforce Solutions Offers Military Spouses, Transitional Soldiers Free Tuition for National Certification Programs

Workforce Solutions Borderplex (WSB), in partnership with Fort Bliss and the Texas and El Paso Apartment Associations, announced a new program, exclusively offer military spouses and transitioning soldiers.

According to a news release on Monday, WSB’s new partnership will allow eligible participants to earn their certificate for Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) or their National Apartment Leasing Professional certification (NALP) free of charge to eligible candidates.

WSB is offering military spouses and transitioning soldiers the opportunity to earn nationally recognized certifications that will enable them to acquire coveted positions within the apartment management/building maintenance professions with more ease, in professions that offer great compensation and flexibility.

Eligible program candidates would be able to earn their nationally recognized certifications, at no cost courtesy of WSB, and these candidates will also be eligible for childcare services (first come, first serve), as well as the ability to meet employers ready to hire newly certified professionals.

Neci Hamilton, a graduate of the NALP program, and now a Property Manager for Creekside Apartment Homes in Fort Worth explained that “the hardest thing for a transitioning military service member is not knowing how the skills they acquired in the military translate to those needed in the civilian world.”

Neci shared that, from her personal experience, she did not realize how much her military background would influence how well she performs in her current role as a Property Manager.

“There are so many skills that military personnel possess that are in high demand within the apartment industry. We naturally fit within this industry because we adapt well and we understand the importance of teamwork and structure.”

The National Apartment Leasing Professional Certification (NALP) is a 4-week program that can potentially lead to roles in apartment complex management or commercial leasing.

The Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician (CAMT) program is a 6-week program that can lead to roles in building maintenance. These exciting certification programs are also meaningful in that they provide transitioning soldiers with an opportunity to acquire a profession that will provide a more seamless transition out of service.

Ms. Hamilton shared that from an employer viewpoint “it’s difficult to find great people to fill positions in our industry” and most of the time, new candidates require specific skill training upon hire. The in-depth training from the NALP and CAMT certification programs will provide candidates with hands-on experience that they can put to use their first day of employment.

For more information about the CAMT and NALP certification programs, please contact Martha Loya at (915) 887-2051.

1st Armored Division Soldiers win 2018 U.S. Army Best Medic Competition

SAN ANTONIO – After more than 72 hours of continuous competition, 27 teams have been narrowed down to one. Staff Sgts. Cory Glasgow and Branden Mettura, 1st Armored Division (1st AD), have won this year’s U.S. Army Best Medic Competition.

The Soldiers’ preparation began long before the start of this competition. Each competitor earned the title Best Medic at their respective commands before continuing their journey to the ABMC at Camp Bullis, Texas.

“I feel super pumped, super excited,” said Glasgow. “This was my fourth time competing.”

“We sat down and studied, specifically TC3 (Tactical Combat Casualty Care),” said Mettura. “We weren’t really prepared for the prolonged primary field care, but luckily Cory has taken some courses, so we really relied on his knowledge and expertise in that area.”

“Prolonged field care is the future of Army Medicine,” Glasgow continued. “I’m going to train my medics in prolonged field care because that’s the new focus. Medics will have to sit with patients for a prolong period of time. They need to focus on how they’re going to save that person’s life.”

“We’re really excited to represent the 1st AD,” said Mettura. “We’re bringing this home to them.”

In a ceremony at Blesse Auditorium on Fort Sam Houston, Command Sgt. Major Michael L. Gragg, U.S. Army Medical Command, talked about how the competitors are the future of Army Medicine.

“As you can see from these great Americans, you can see our future is great,” said Gragg. “For as long as conflict involves humans, there will be Army Medicine. You Soldiers are what make us global, expeditionary, and medically competent. I’m proud of you.”

“Please understand, this competition is a spring board for Army Medicine to continue to care for America’s sons and daughters,” said Gragg.

Staff Sgt. Cory Glasgow and Staff Sgt. Branden Mettura, 1st Armor Division ruck through the terrain during the land navigation course of the 2018 Army Best Medic Competition, Sept. 18, 2018 | U.S. Army photo by David E. Gillespie

For more than two decades, the Army Best Medic Competition has challenged Soldier-Medics throughout the Army in an extreme test of medical and soldier skills.

Originally fashioned after the Army’s Best Ranger Competition, the first Best Medic competition was held in 1994 at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Competitors must be agile, adaptive leaders who demonstrate mature judgment while testing collective team skills in areas of physical fitness, tactical marksmanship, leadership, warrior skills, land navigation, and overall knowledge of medical, technical and tactical proficiencies through a series of hands-on tasks in a simulated operational environment.

1st Armored Division, America’s Tank Division, is an active component, U.S. Army, armored division located at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The division consists of approximately 17,000 highly-trained Soldiers with a lethal mix of combat capabilities including tanks, artillery, attack helicopters, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Stryker Combat Vehicles, transport helicopters, and robust sustainment capabilities.

Story by Courtney Dock – U.S. Army Medical Command

Fort Bliss’ Ready First Brigade Set for Challenges at NTC in California

Fort Bliss’ 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team is about to go through the Army’s toughest training challenge.

About 4,000 soldiers from the Ready First Brigade – as it is nicknamed – are heading off to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

The brigade’s advance parties have already left and the main body will be leaving in late September. The brigade will spend most of October at NTC – undergoing a month-long training rotation.

Once there, they will go through an elaborate war game and will be tested by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The 11th ACR serves as the opposing force at NTC and tests visiting brigades 10 times a year. This unit is the Army equivalent of a scrimmage partner.

“We’re looking at NTC as another way to get better,” said Maj. Jim Trask, 1st Brigade’s executive officer.

When they finish, they will be ready to go anywhere in the world and do any mission the Army wants them to do, Trask said.

This will be Ready First’s fourth trip to one of the Army’s combat training centers in about three years.

4-17 Infantry
Regiment during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by SGT Brian
Micheliche, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

The brigade went to NTC in June 2015 and October 2016 with a trip to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisana, sandwiched in between in January 2016.

That prepared the brigade to go on a deployment to Afghanistan from January 2017 to October of that year.

“The old adage is everyone tries to win,” said Trask, from Omaha, Nebraska. “But I think you don’t really win at NTC. It is more about learning, developing – what you have done well and what we need to improve on, areas we didn’t even think about.”

The brigade will basically go through a practice deployment – in which it moves its personnel and equipment about a thousand miles from Fort Bliss to California.

Once there, they will also be coached and mentored by a staff of observer-coach-trainers. They run and guide the exercise. They also serve as powerful role models. Collectively, the OCTs – as they are known in Army lingo – are experts in virtually every Army job.

Trask said the brigade headquarters will get plenty of practice at NTC – overseeing logistics and sustainment for the brigade’s battalions

16th Brigade Engineer
Battalion during Iron Focus 18.2. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

and soldiers, coordinating artillery support, collecting and distributing intelligence and conducting mission command.

Of course, soldiers will get tested in almost every way – from having to deal with lack of sleep, to living in dirty, dusty conditions for a month to primarily eating Meals Ready to Eat or MREs.

“They will be living outside,” said Sgt. Maj. Cesar Sanchez, the brigade’s operations sergeant major. “They will be attacked daily and they will have to conduct nonstop operations. I think it will toughen them up.”

Ready First has been training for this rotation since January – when it went through testing for the difficult-to-earn Expert Infantryman Badge.

Soldiers then went through a traditional gated train-up culminating with the battalion-level Ready Focus and brigade-level Iron Focus, both at the vast Fort Bliss training area.

Sanchez agreed that the upcoming rotation is a powerful way for the brigade to see where it needs to improve and stress and test all its systems and procedures.

2-3 Field Artillery
Regiment during Ready Focus. US Army photos by Staff Sergeant Kelsey Miller, 1/1 AD PAO/Released.

“They will be able to see what their shortcomings are, so they can get better at the end of it and refine all their systems,” said Sanchez, who is from Fresno, California.

Sanchez said it is a powerful way to make sure everyone in the brigade is as prepared as possible for whatever mission lies ahead.

“Next time, you can put this in your kit bag so you can be even better,” Sanchez said.

Maj. Patrick O’Rourke, the brigade’s operations officer, said the brigade should view its recent deployment and previous trips to the Army’s combat training centers as a badge of pride instead of an excuse or crutch.

“It is beneficial to us, that our organization has been forged by these events,” said O’Rourke, from Niceville, Florida, “It allows us to be better prepared, instead of saying we are worn down.”

“We can use them as a means of saying we are stronger than other organizations,” O’Rourke said.

***

By David Burge – Special to the Herald-Post

David Burge is a news producer with ABC-7 in El Paso. He has also worked at newspapers in California, New Mexico and Texas. Covering the military is a particular passion.

WBAMC’s Addiction Medicine Intensive Outpatient Program Shifting Culture, Stigma at Fort Bliss

From tanks and fighter jets to grenades and cadence, the public’s perception of the military as an institution and the culture varies.

Perceptions within the ranks also extend to service members who fear reprisal if asking for help, a stigma the staff at Fort Bliss’ Addiction Medicine Intensive Outpatient Program (AMIOP) are working to end.

Since opening doors to Fort Bliss service members just over a year ago, over 150 service members have completed a six-week program at the AMIOP to sober up and break free from addiction. But, according to the experts, the AMIOP is only the beginning of recovery.

“Initially (service members) start at (Substance Use Disorder Clinic Care, or SUDCC) for most cases,” said Gisela Carter, program director, AMIOP / Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). “A lot of times they get sent fairly quickly to us if they have higher needs.”

The AMIOP, the only one of its kind at Fort Bliss, offers intermediary rehabilitation for service members and provides a level 2.5 level of care based on the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) continuum of care which describes treatment as a continuum marked by four broad levels of service and an early intervention level. The lowest level of care, according to ASAM, is at level 0.5, early intervention, with the highest being at level 4, medically managed intensive inpatient services. The six-week-long program differs from SUDCC by approaching addiction with a full schedule of therapy modalities designed to keep patients engaged and practicing methods toward rehabilitation.

“We provide the tools during that six-week program and collaborate with patients (after completing the program) to see how they are using the tools,” said Maj. Marlene Arias-Reynoso, AMIOP medication provider/ SUDCC consultant and chief of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Embedded Behavioral Health. “The earliest they come and get help, the more effective the treatment will be. If they don’t come until a DUI later, there’s already things in place. Although the Soldier may want to recover, their career may likely be over.”

For one Soldier, a self-referral helped set up the Soldier to continue in the Army before the addiction took over.

“I had personal issues that escalated and I started going to Embedded Behavioral Health to get help then I was introduced to the program,” said the Soldier. “I was off-track very badly, everybody saw a change in me, even (senior leaders) before going through AMIOP.”

The Soldier, who wishes to remain anonymous, initiated his recovery at SUDCC and eventually found himself at the AMIOP for elevated care.

“For the first two weeks, like most people, I thought this was a bunch of BS. We’re going to come in here and sing Kumbaya, a lot of people are just going to say, ‘this is what you should do…’ but after we got past that particular phase, I had a few emotional days. They started to peel the layers off the onion to figure out what makes us turn to using substances,” said the Soldier. “It provided an open forum, where you can actually speak to others going through the same thing, because back in the unit you can’t speak to others freely. The group is where everybody opened up, in that forum, with a bunch of strangers and I put my business out there, but to this day we still have that group that we had.”

The Soldier’s perception of stigma surrounding Soldiers who ask for help is one the AMIOP staff is working to transform.

“There’s still a huge stigma about people who are recovering. There are still negative connotations with it,” said Carter. “Sometimes the value of the Soldier decreases and becomes negative because of the stigma, people refer to them as ‘bad for the unit’.”

In 2016, the Army Public Health Command’s Health of the Force report, a force-wide annual report discussing factors impacting Soldier readiness, lists five percent of active-duty Soldiers across the Army as being diagnosed with substance use disorder. The report consolidates the misuse and abuse of alcohol with prescription medication and other drugs.

“The longer you keep struggling with whatever substance, the worst the outcome is going to be. Habits are hard to break, so addicts may go back to (abusive) behaviors,” said Arias-Reynoso. “This is only six weeks, after that are the challenging times. The certificate (for completing the AMIOP program) is not the end, it’s the beginning.”

According to the Soldier, one activity at the AMIOP helped him realize the importance of scheduling and keeping him active to deter him from negative behaviors.

“I’m back to the (Soldier) who (other Soldiers) knew. I had stopped going to the gym, I loved being outdoors and I had gotten away from all of that because of depression, anxiety, and crazy thoughts going through my head,” said the Soldier. “I needed to eliminate the drinking, because at first I just wanted to minimize. But, (at the AMIOP) you have breathalyzers, urinalysis, AA meetings, which are eye-openers, just to see the long-term effects of what alcohol was doing.”

By starting treatment, the Soldier was also able to reconnect with a daughter who was beginning to notice the changes.

“I have no problem talking, but I wasn’t reaching out to my family as much (when the Soldier started drinking heavily). Once I opened up to family, it became easier to speak more about (addiction). Now our conversations are back to normal,” said the Soldier.

“When we have graduation in six weeks, I always tell (patients), this is genesis, this is the beginning, this is the initial start of the recovery,” said Carter. “There’s after-care at the SUDCC, in addition they come back to us on Fridays for several weeks to see how they are doing. It is like a recovery group for patients that have attended the AMIOP, and on the outside they continue that external support system like Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.”

According to AMIOP staff, continuity of treatment is essential in recovery and staying sober, with many programs designed to continue care three to six months after completing the program, to include family counseling.

“The program definitely gave us different tools to deal with the triggers, I don’t even go out to clubs anymore, I go do my activity and back to the house,” said the Soldier. “It’s helping me deal with everyday life and motivate me not to drink. As long as you have like-minded people and someone who has been through a similar experience, then you can relate. And that’s one of the best things about the program.”

Two cohorts of eight service members occupy the program year round, with each cohort’s participants starting at the same level of recovery.

“Recovery is not just something that happens, it’s a process and people have to continue to work on it,” said Carter. “Sometimes we have patients here until the day they walk out the gate (are out of the military), if a patient is willing to stay and work with us then we’re willing to admit them.”

“The tools that they learn here, even as civilians they can potentially apply them to their lives,” said Arias-Reynoso. “Being sober is not recovery. Have you changed your lifestyle? Not just stop your substance.”

Each September is Recovery Month, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-sponsored observance to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate those who recover. This year’s theme is: Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.

In efforts to increase awareness of addiction symptoms, the AMIOP recently provided training to primary care providers at Fort Bliss to help identify addictive behaviors, during regular exams to help service members before it becomes a habitual juggernaut.

“Anybody that actually needs help, no matter what your rank, don’t be afraid to stand up and say something,” said the Soldier. “Just speak up, don’t try to handle all issues by yourself. I always thought I was one of those people where it won’t happen to me and I had my stuff together but I didn’t… and it all came crumbling down.”

Today, the Soldier is back at his unit and working toward bettering himself while continuing counseling during recovery.

Multiple referral options exists for service members seeking treatment including self, physician and command referred. All patients are required to enroll in SUDCC prior to seeking higher levels of care.

Author: Marcy Sanchez William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

‘Boss Lift’ Allows N.C. Employers to Visit Their National Guard Employees at Ft Bliss

Operation “Boss Lift” had thirty-five North Carolina employers travel to Fort Bliss aboard a N.C. Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster to witness their Citizen-Soldier employees conduct military training and learn what they do when not at their civilian job and on Guard duty.

“Having employers experience what Soldiers do while on training helps us expand beyond the image of one weekend a month and two weeks a year,” said Col. Robert Bumgardner, Commander of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. “Employers are critical to our mission accomplishment and we grateful that ESGR is able to make programs like the Boss Lift happen.”

N.C. employers had the opportunity to get hands-on an assortment of military equipment, observe Paladin artillery, Abrams Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle live fire demonstrations and experience a Meal-Ready-to Eat (MRE) with their employee.

“This whole experience has broaden my horizons to think of what these Soldiers do beyond their everyday lives in North Carolina. They leave their lives behind to train and protect our nation. That amazes me!,” said Nathan Huret, who works at Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. “It is remarkable to see the enclosed space these Soldiers work in while inside a tank and in this harsh desert environment. You cannot be claustrophobic or have boundaries issues with barely any room to move while they work to accomplish their task in a small amount of time.”

The ESGR Boss Lift program is intended to gain and maintain support from all public and private employers of National Guard and Reserve component members. Boss Lifts bring employers closer to understanding and experiencing their employees as they perform military duty.

“Very few people have a real understanding of what a National Guard Soldier does, the only time they see a National Guard Soldier is during a hurricane or floods, but that is just one part of their mission, the other part is the title 10 “federal” mission when Soldiers are called to fight our nation’s war,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn A. Bramhall, Special Assistant to the Director of Army National Guard. “So to get employers out here, to get them on the equipment to see their soldiers in action really helps employers see the full spectrum of what their employee does. It’s a way that employers can relate to what their Soldiers are doing.”

The weather in this high plains desert environment is very hot and challenging to operate in, and for the past 12 days over 3,800 Citizen-Soldiers of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team have been training hard honing their their combat skills of “Shoot, Move, Communicate, and Sustain”.

“Having this experience as a background now I have a better understanding of the true concept of Citizen-Soldier. So now when I interact with the companies of my county, I’ll be able to give them examples and say ‘yes’ they’re out here in the deserts of Texas,” said Nathan Huret, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation.

“But the reality is these Soldiers are here learning skills that are still applicable, maybe not technically applicable, but still applicable from a communication standpoint, from a team standpoint that’s what really matters in a business environment. Anybody can learn anything but the person that can plug into a situation and work with people that have different backgrounds and different skill sets and make something happen that’s really powerful.”

Operation “Boss Lift”, a three-day trip to Fort Bliss, Aug. 16-18, 2018, is funded and led by the North Carolina Employee Support to the Guard and Reserves (ESGR).

Author:  Sgt. Odaliska Almonte – North Carolina National Guard

Gallery+Story: Fort Bliss Archaeology Preservation A Team Effort

About two years ago, Belinda Mollard, a senior archaeologist at Fort Bliss, was escorting officials from the Army’s Installation Management Command to an archaeological site on post when two Soldiers approached and demanded to know what they were doing.

Their actions delighted her.

“It showed that all our education efforts were paying off,” Mollard said.

Mollard, whose official title is Cultural Resources Manager, Senior Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison for the Fort Bliss Garrison Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, is one of a team of five archaeologists who manage the roughly 20,600 archaeological sites on the 1.12 million acres of Fort Bliss.

The sites span from the Paleoindian period, or about 10,000 BC, through the Cold War years of 1947 through 1991, but most of them concern the Jornada Mogollon, who were in the area from about 200-1450 AD.

Members of the archaeology team try to visit the sites as much as possible to monitor them, but Soldiers can also help in a variety of ways – including by politely approaching people they see in areas around the sites.

Another way is to leave sites undisturbed, Mollard said.

“Rock art is very fragile, so the oils from our hands, and especially lotions, sunscreens, perfumes, things like that, that will actually destroy the rock art faster than natural processes,” Mollard said. “So we ask people not to touch rock art for sure, but even at the sites, we ask you not to touch anything or pick anything up.”

If Soldiers think they might have found a new site or human remains, they should leave everything undisturbed and contact installation officials, Mollard said.

“As a people, we’ve been here a long time,” Mollard said. “We do have human remains that pop up every now and then, so we just ask, ‘Please just let us know.’”

The installation has two environmental liaisons for the training ranges: Shane Offutt and David Black, Mollard said. Offutt is a trained archaeologist with a military background, and Black is a biologist, but both are knowledgeable about potential issues.

“Chances are we know there’s a site there and we just ask them to just shift half a click to the east or a click to the west if there’s a big concentration,” Mollard said.

It’s important to let officials know if someone has found remains, Mollard said.

“If you see something you think is bone, you need to tell us,” Mollard said. “You need to let us know right away. I always tell them it’s not their job to investigate, it’s mine.”

It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, Mollard said.

“A lot of times we’ll get a call, and I don’t mind, I’ll come out at midnight on a Friday or three o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, to make sure it’s coyote,” Mollard said. “That’s fine with me. I’d rather do that than have somebody decide to go and investigate and find out it is human.”

Two caves on Fort Bliss illustrate the importance of properly preserving archaeological resources, Mollard said. They are in close proximity, and one features well preserved, iconic rock art from the Jornada Mogollon period, and the other features mostly obscene graffiti from the 1970s.

“When you look at the archaeological history of this site and look at all the stuff that went on here, and then this is what happened because it wasn’t protected, it’s kind of a shame,” Mollard said of the site with the graffiti during a monitoring visit July 19. “We do the best we can now, but there’s nothing we can really do to reverse this.”

Mollard said the archaeology office works with seven federally recognized tribes – the Mescalero Apache, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, the Pueblo of Isleta, the Fort Sill Apache, the Kiowa, the Comanche Nation and the White Mountain Apache – to preserve sites and allow tribal members access when possible.

Tribal members realize that eventually the rock art, for example, will be gone due to natural erosion, but it is still important to protect the sites, Mollard said.

“It’s a delicate balance of how we protect the site,” Mollard said. “We don’t want to stop the natural course of the site, but we do want to stop people from coming up and spray painting.”

Although Fort Bliss archaeological sites are off limits to the public, people can learn more about archaeology in the Fort Bliss area at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at 4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive.

Also, at the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site (6900 Hueco Tanks Road) people can take self-guided or staff-guided tours of pictographs and petroglyphs, and at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in Silver City, New Mexico, people can visit preserved cliff dwellings of the Mogollon people, cousins of the Jornada Mogollon.

Author: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs

First-Ever SoldierCon at Fort Bliss Unites Fans of Cars, Comics, and Cosplay

Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss will be the Southwest’s center for all things automobile and comic book related this weekend, as SoliderCon takes over the post.

The SoldierCon is the first-ever Comic Convention with a car show at Ft. Bliss. During the weekend, there will be five different events: Eat/Sleep/Drift Car Show (Saturday), Gaming, Live Action Role Playing, and Cosplay Contest (Sunday), and the comic book convention both days.

In addition to comic artists and vendors, there will be a free film festival highlighting amateur talent of various sorts including professional comic books artists Free Isabelo and Rudy Vasquez. A weekend panel is also planned for the event.

Featured guest and renowned toy expert Johnny Jimenez Jr. – from TV’s Pawn Stars – will be on-hand to sell toys or appraise the public’s toys.

The Eat, Sleep, Drift Car Show will feature the region’s top builds and show-stopping vehicles. Entrance to the Car Show area is free, as is the parking, in and around the area.

Special guest Noel Gugliemi (Noel G.), known for his roles in The Fast and the Furious and Lowriders, will be in the comic convention area.

As for the Cosplay Contest, that will be conducted inside the Freedom Crossing Food Court, with a stage and runway.

Military Gaming Supply will take over the store front once belonging to Toys-R-Us, and fill the facility with a multitude of gaming tables. In addition, they will bring two interactive areas for their Space Ship Simulators (2), where participants can navigate a virtual spaceship on missions.

For the duration of the weekend’s event, there will be ease of access into Ft. Bliss, only requiring a Driver’s License.

For more information or advance ticket purchases, visit the SoldierCon website and the SoldierCon Facebook Event page for updates.

Food, Water Delivered by Ft Bliss’ Own Iron Eagles in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bliss, use their capabilities to go into areas not accessible due to poor road conditions to deliver much needed food and water around the island.

The 1AD CAB performs missions throughout Puerto Rico that deliver food, water, and other supplies for life-saving and life-sustaining support to areas hardest hit by Hurricane Maria.

“A lot of us volunteered to come here,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Hanna, a Blackhawk pilot with 1AD CAB. “We are happy to help; my Soldiers are asking for duty day extensions because they are very passionate about helping out.”

While significant progress is being made in the response to Hurricane Maria, recovery for Puerto Rico will require help from federal agencies and the community.

As access to ports, airfields, and roads continue to open more resources will flow into hard hit areas.

A CH-47 Chinook helicopter with the 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade, conducts flight test at the Roosevelt Roads Airfield in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Oct.15, 2017. | U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Lancelot Lokeni | SGT Michael Eaddy,

The CAB provides their contribution multiple times a week by delivering commodities to communities in the areas most affected by the hurricane.

“I’ve been on two different missions where we’ve delivered water, food, diapers and baby food,” said 1st. Sgt. Jesus Jimenez, a native of Puerto Rico and Headquarters and Headquarters Company’s first sergeant. “We’ll usually land in a baseball park and make our deliveries there.”

The desire to support is a complete unit effort, from the pilots to the most junior Soldier; they are all willing, able, and very eager to get out into the community and serve the people of Puerto Rico, Hanna said.

“I just want to keep flying and help the communities,” said Jimenez. “Not only because they are Americans, but because I grew up here and I want to help.”

Author:  Sgt. Michael Eaddy   |  24th Press Camp Headquarters  | DVIDS

 

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