Trading Post holds grand opening for Fort Bliss community, volunteers
Master Sgt. Kelly McCargo,
1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Public Affairs:
More than 50 El Paso volunteers, Soldiers and 1st Armored Division and Garrison Command leaders attended the grand opening of the Fort Bliss Trading Post Sept. 19.
“The Fort Bliss Trading Post grand opening is unique across all [Department of Defense] installations,” said Col. Brant Dayley, Fort Bliss garrison commander. “[It’s] a one-stop center for all of our volunteer and community support activities. This facility provides first-class support to six ‘first round draft’ pick volunteer organizations.”
The Trading Post is located next to the Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums at West Fort Bliss.
Numerous organizations volunteered to construct the more than 122,000-square-foot community center. Some of the organizations involved included the Armed Services YMCA, Fort Bliss Garrison Command, 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 1st Bn., 77th Armor Regt., 1st AD’s 4th Brigade Combat Team and the Directorate of Public Works.
The Trading Post will combine the Little Bit of Bliss Gift Shop, Fort Bliss Thrift Shop, Junior Enlisted Family Center, Enlisted Spouses Club, NCO Wives Club and the Fort Bliss Troop Issue Subsistence Activity, or TISA, which is a food management and distribution facility for military dining facilities.
“Thank you all so much for all of your hard work and assistance with making this day happen,” said Angie Tabat, president of the Fort Bliss Officer and Civilian Spouse Association. “Today you are my favorite Soldiers because of everything you have done for [the Trading Post].”
Many of the various volunteer and community support centers would be housed temporarily in multiple buildings and were often moved with little notice.
The ESC provides free mentorship and leadership to all U.S. enlisted servicemembers and supports the Fort Bliss community with grants to nonprofit organizations and schools.
The JEFC is operated by the non-profit Armed Services YMCA and can assist servicemembers below the E-5 pay grade with an emergency non-perishable food pantry, clothing, toys and furniture. On average the JEFC assists more than 600 families a year.
The NCO Wives Club is a charitable nonprofit organization for spouses of promotable specialists and noncommissioned officers that host events throughout Fort Bliss and El Paso to raise funds for numerous activities.
The OCSA is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for distribution throughout Fort Bliss and El Paso charitable organizations, grants and scholarships. Annually the Fort Bliss OCSA awards more than $40,000 a year.
The Thrift Store purchases and resells furniture, clothing, toys and household items at reasonable prices. Last year families supplemented their incomes with more than $150,000 through Thrift Shop consigning, according to thrift store volunteers.
“This was a collective effort that began with so many others that have since moved on to another post,” said Lucille Pittard, wife of Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Fort Bliss and 1st Armored Division commander. “People like Lieutenant Colonel Lenny Wells, Colonel Joseph Simonelli, Jennifer Herbek … these people were working hard until the day they left, and they did such a seamless transfer to get this complete.”
“This was an immense project executed by our installation’s director of Public Works, starting in September of last year costing $2.5 million,” Dayley said. “In addition, our installation’s director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation installed a 5,000-foot playground, an interactive air-powered shooting game, and other novel features … [this] is the only indoor playground on Fort Bliss and is the only playground of its kind in the DoD. Costing over $225,000, there is no fee for children to play in this facility at any time.”
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