It’s 5 a.m. and still dark out save for the few streetlights over stretches of roughly paved road. There are no cars on the streets. A set of footsteps crunch their way across a barely-lit gravel lot and pause at the edge.
The idling sound of a generator revving is only matched by the awakening illumination of the light set. It shows a 3-story brick, puzzle-pieced building on the opposite side.
As the sound of footsteps make their way towards the back entrance of the old building, interior lights begin to flicker on throughout. Computers are awoken and doors are unlocked.
The Soldier Readiness and Possessing Center often just referred to as “Building 60” is typically the first stop mobilizing soldiers go when they arrive here. It’s also one of the first stops soldiers make when they return to the states. Several entities occupy the building. The SRPC operations cell is one of them.
The Operations Section is made up of Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade (FBMB) soldiers who coordinate with their enterprise partners, providers, and medical support units to ensure quality customer service to mobilizing and demobilizing soldiers.
“We’re just here to take care of the soldiers, to make sure they get the service they need,” said Capt. Kristina Souza, officer-in-charge of SRPC operations.
On a typical day, the SRPC site can see several hundred Soldiers and civilians. Maintaining the flow of traffic and keeping the peace is paramount. Gemini, contractors and enterprise partners, manage foot-traffic and make sure there’s no bottlenecks.
“They’re a huge contribution on how the flow of operation is controlled,” said Souza.
By the time soldiers go through the medical portion of the SRPC process they’ve already sat through two to three hours of informational
briefs. The soldiers are then split into groups and see various sections in the building—medical, legal, and finance to name a few. This is usually accompanied by time spent waiting to be seen at each section.
Tensions can get high.
“We just try to make the process as easy, as smooth as possible,” said Sgt. Angie Gonzales, SRPC operations noncommissioned officer. “We try to accommodate everything they [the soldiers] need—including a computer lab.”
The Operations Section oversees and plans for the medical and administrative readiness of every soldier and contractor that walk through the SRPC doors.
They work hand in hand with medical providers and staff, legal staff, finance personnel, and outside agencies like Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to make sure soldiers have the support they need before and after they deploy or mobilize.
They ensure that programs like the Separation History Physical Exam, which essentially provides a physical for Veteran Affairs to ease the way for soldiers receiving medical benefits, is not skipped or forgotten.
“We’re very fortunate that we have contractors here and DA [Department of the Army] civilians that are experienced that have been able to be a valuable asset,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lorrieanne Carnes, SRPC executive officer. “Because they do so well in what they do, they help us dramatically.”
Some issues aren’t easily fixed with team-work alone. They’re typical problems inherent in operating in older buildings with newer ones on the rise. But the team adjusts, coordinates with the FBMB facilities section for repairs, and continues mission.
All the while ensuring the comfort and care of their customers, their enterprise partners, and each other.