Thoughts while working out in the gym
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:
Tragedy struck this weekend, as a Soldier in our 2nd Brigade was killed when a vehicle in which he was traveling flipped over on I-10 and another one of our Soldiers died of an apparent drug overdose in his barracks room. The El Paso Police Department Special Traffic Investigation Team is examining all of the evidence leading to this accident. We do know our Soldier was riding in the front passenger seat of the car without a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The other two people in the car were wearing their seatbelts and survived. The death of our Soldier who died in his barracks room is still under investigation.
There are many factors that place a Soldier at risk of making a mistake from which he or she cannot recover. Alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, riding in a car without a seatbelt, unprotected sex; these are all behavioral patterns of an individual flirting with catastrophe.
These deaths are our second and third preventable deaths of 2013. Please continue to make the right choices and look after your battle buddies. Check on your friends and fellow Soldiers who are on medication. If they seem incoherent, call 9-1-1 immediately. It takes all of us to prevent Soldier death. Leaders must set the tone for their organization and peers must constantly scan for warning signs that a fellow Soldier is at-risk. If you need help or are feeling hopeless or are going through a dark period in your life, please seek help by contacting a friend, battle buddy, family member, or a member of your chain of command. You can also call our 24-hour chaplain at (915) 637-4265 or Military One Source at 800-342-9647.
Goodbye for Now
This month, the 1AD Combat Aviation Brigade began sending its battalions out of Fort Bliss and into Afghanistan for a nine-month deployment. With the Pistoleros of the 4-501st already in Kuwait, the CAB will largely be deployed for much of 2013. We know Task Force Flying Dragons (1-501st), Task Force Iron Knights (2-501st), and Task Force Apocalypse (3-501st) will accomplish the mission and come home safely. In the meantime, the brigade’s headquarters, the 127th ASB, and Family Readiness Groups, along with all of Team Bliss, will take care of the CAB Families back here at Fort Bliss and El Paso. We are proud of our deploying Soldiers! Do your mission and come home safe.
2-1 AD Gunnery
This week I visited units from 2/1 AD conducting tank, Bradley, and machine-gun training in our training areas. I had a great opportunity to see the Regulars of 1-6 Infantry conduct a combined arms live fire exercise. The Regulars integrated all assets with incredible precision. The earth shook as 120mm mortars, tanks, Bradleys, and 155-millimeter artillery engaged targets, while the 1-6 Engineers conducted demolition and breaching in support of the battalion’s maneuver elements.
Last week, the Regulators completed M2A3 Bradley and M1A1 Abrams platoon-level qualification for live fire. Alpha and Bravo companies (Bradley) and Charlie and Delta companies (Tanks) achieved the Heavy Brigade Combat Team gunnery standards in this culminating event which means the battalion is validated for the upcoming Network Integration Exercise.
Last week the Iron Knights of 1-35 Armor, 2/1 AD, completed their combined arms live fire exercise, firing more than 1,155 rounds of 7.62 millimeter ammunition, 600 mortar rounds, 20 rounds of 155-millimeter artillery, and 800 rounds of C4 explosives to great effect. A lot of good training is going on in 1AD and the Fort Bliss training area!
There is another hazard that many are uncomfortable speaking about. It is, however, one we at Team Bliss must address.
The past two years have seen a surge in new HIV infections among Fort Bliss Soldiers. In 2012, the HIV infection rate at Fort Bliss was among the highest in the Army with 13 Fort Bliss Soldiers infected. There are a number of commonalities among our Soldiers who have been affected. All of our recent cases have been a result of men having unprotected sex with men. African-American and Latino Soldiers were affected disproportionately in far greater numbers.
The majority of our HIV cases resulted from online solicitations for sex, particularly from the websites Craigslist, Grinder, and Adam for Adam. This may reflect a civilian preference for military partners under the assumption our Soldiers are free of HIV. Remember, an HIV negative test does not equal lack of HIV infection. In fact, the incubation period for the virus is three to six months and during this time period the effected person is most likely to transmit the disease. Without proper medical care and medication, an HIV infection can result in a fatal case of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
A diagnosis of HIV severely limits a Soldiers career options. Soldiers with HIV cannot serve outside the Continental United States and are permanently non-deployable. HIV-positive Soldiers may not attend military schools greater than 20 weeks or schools that incur an additional service obligation. Frequently these Soldiers are compelled to change their Military Occupational Specialty to a career field which can accommodate these severe restrictions.
There are many sexually transmitted diseases in addition to HIV and in 2012, 784 Soldiers from Team Bliss were diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). We must work to educate our Soldiers and curb STI’s. Protect yourself by always having safe sex. For more information call the William Beaumont Army Medical Center urology department at (915) 742-5140.
Be a Good Neighbor
It’s warming up outside here in El Paso and everyone on Fort Bliss is out and about – walkers, joggers, cyclists and dogs. With all the outdoor activity we have here comes the same old conflict involving loose canines that crops up around cities, towns, villages, and military posts around America. I love dogs. I truly believe dogs are some of our best friends. However, as dog owners, we must be responsible.
Keep your pets leashed outside. We have had a few close calls lately with aggressive dogs around children. Our habitual joggers run into unleashed dogs chasing them down on a regular basis. These dogs may not necessarily be harmful, but a jogger would have no idea if a loose dog is aggressive.
Dog owners on Fort Bliss will get two warnings; the third time, the dog, and possibly the owner of the dog, will be removed from post. We’ve built two dog parks on West Bliss this past year, so there is no reason for dog owners to let their dogs run unleashed in public common areas. We all must live safely together in our community, so please, be a good neighbor.
New Hours at Replica Pool and Soto Fitness Center
As of Friday, March 1st, Replica Pool will be open on weekends and holidays from 8 am to 8 pm. Monday through Friday, the pool will be open from 4:30 am until 8 pm.
Also beginning March 1st, Soto Fitness Center on East Bliss will open from 4 am until midnight all week. In order to support the additional Soto Fitness Center hours, we will close Biggs Gym on East Bliss on the weekends.
Pershing Pub Grand Opening
Last weekend, Team Bliss opened the Pershing Pub at Pace Hall, Building 243 on Club Road, West Bliss, next to the Pershing Gate. The Pershing Pub is a great place for leaders to unwind, enjoy some wings and drinks. Every Friday at 5pm, Pershing Pub will be open for business. Every month, the Pershing Pub will host “Right Arm Night,” a rare chance when leaders and their “right arms” – those who help them out – can enjoy some camaraderie in a relaxed environment. “Right Arm Night” will feature free snacks, music, drink specials and prizes.
Team Bliss Special Olympics
Last week we received great news, as Special Olympics Texas is now open to our military families here on Fort Bliss. We here on Team Bliss will host our own team for the 2013 Special Olympics and we need track and field athletes. The program is open to ages 8 and older. Practices begin March 2nd with the competition on May 4th.
For more information on the Fort Bliss team, call (915) 568-2784 or (915) 568-3052, or visit the Exceptional Family Member Program at Army Community Services on West Bliss. The Special Olympics is a wonderful event – please come out and support all of our participants.
We have our first-ever amateur bodybuilding tournament coming up on May 17th at Stout Fitness Center. This event will be sanctioned by the Natural American Bodybuilding Federation. The competition will include body building for men and women as well as a separate category for best physique for both men and women. It will be open to all Soldiers, family members, and the local community, so keep pumping that iron!
What I’m really excited about is Fort Bliss CrossFit, coming soon to the Soto Fitness Center. Like many of you, I am a big advocate of the CrossFit training philosophy and we’re going to bring our own CrossFit-certified program to Fort Bliss, complete with classes and seminars. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program implemented by many tactical operations teams, military special operations units, and mixed martial artists across the world. The program develops strength, aerobic conditioning, core support, and flexibility and is ideal for training for combat and many sports. CrossFit also blends well with our Mission Essential Fitness (MEF) on Fort Bliss. I have been training CrossFit for the past year and have noticed a large increase in my own strength, aerobic capacity, and overall endurance. Once we get this program going, I believe it is really going to take off here on Fort Bliss.
Well, back to the gym.
Be combat ready, be fit, be resilient and be Iron Strong!
Iron Soldiers – Always Forward, Globally – Connected, Expeditionary!
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