Thoughts while working out in the gym

Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard 1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General

Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard,
1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:

On Suicide – A Retraction
In my commentary published January 19, 2012, I stated suicide was a selfish act. Thanks to many of you and your feedback, I have learned that this was a hurtful statement. I also realize that my statement was not in line with the Army’s guidance regarding sensitivity to suicide. With my deepest sincerity and respect towards those whom I have offended, I retract that statement.

There are many reasons why a person may take his or her own life; it is very complex. Suicide is a serious problem, not only in our Army, but throughout our entire nation. Our efforts to prevent suicide at Fort Bliss are having a beneficial effect. We have lower than average suicide rates within FORSCOM. We have more than four times the number of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) personnel than any other Army installation, the most Master Resilience Trainers, 160 behavioral health providers, and inspiring stories every month of Soldiers who intervened when one of their battle buddies had suicidal ideations or attempts. Our Wellness Fusion Campus is unique within the Army and is the cornerstone of a deliberate, programmed and accountable installation-wide resilience campaign. Our goal is to create the most fit, healthy, and resilient community in America.

Armed Forces Day Sprint Triathlon: Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss commanding general, rounds the last corner of the bike portion of the triathlon outside Replica Aquatic Center Saturday. Pittard competed in the 400-meter swim, 15-mile bike ride and five-kilometer run. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus, 1st AD Public Affairs.

We must continue to do better each and every day, reaching out, encouraging and helping those in need. A person sometimes considers suicide when they lose hope about the future and they do not feel connected with others around them – a profound sense of hopelessness. We can all help by wrapping our arms around our fellow Soldiers and showing them a future that is positive and supportive. This takes both leadership and compassion. Leaders at all levels must continue with the intrusive, yet caring and compassionate, leadership that has become a part of our culture at Team Bliss. Battle buddies and leaders must stay vigilant and act when someone is in need. None of us are immune from needing help. All of us, at some point, need help for mental, emotional, or relationship stress. Please seek help – it is the right thing to do!

• 24-hour Chaplain: 915-637-4265

•Team Bliss Operations Center: 915-744-1255

• Emergence Crisis Hotline: 915-779-1800

• National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Memorial Day
This weekend we pay respect to our nation’s heroes who have gone before us, as we observe Memorial Day. We must never forget the selfless sacrifice given by so many brave men and women so that we may live in freedom. We honor the courage and patriotism they displayed, and say, “Thank you,” for their sacrifices. Our Team Bliss official ceremony will take place on Monday, May 28th at 9 a.m. at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

New Swimming Pool
Fort Bliss now has five swimming pools! The Beaumont Housing area pool opened this week. The pool is located on Sternberg, right behind the Fisher House. In addition to the in-ground, saltwater pool, there is also a kiddie pool and a brand new playground. The new pool will be open this weekend and Memorial Day from Noon to 8 p.m. each day. After June 8, they will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 12 p.m.-8 p.m. weekends. This is the second pool Balfour Beatty has built on Fort Bliss. The other is located in the Paso del Norte community. They hope to open two more pools by the end of the year. Fort Bliss plans to have a total of 10 pools by the end of 2013.

Recycling Goal: $1 Million
We are more than half-way to our reaching our $1 Million recycling goal at Fort Bliss. We have already reached $600,000 raised from recycling. These funds will come back to all of us in the form of MWR projects. We plan to use the money to build a skate part on East Bliss, replace exercise stations at Biggs Park, resurface playgrounds, add a gaming room for the new Soldier Activity Center (which will open in July), order new indoor cycling bikes, and provide more library materials. We also want to spruce up the Replica Museum – building shade structures, storage barriers, and a new museum exhibit. Additionally we plan to build the “Recycling Railroad” Train at Biggs Park, purchase a mobile stage for special events, and construct a gazebo for the Centennial Club. And this vision will come true – with your help! Every time you throw away an item, think about whether or not it should go into a recycle bin or the trash can. Please recycle – and recycle right.  To find out more about recycling, call 915.568.1537 or visit “Fort Bliss Recycles” on Facebook. Be a recycle hero – recycle right – recycle more!

No-Show Appointments
We are greatly reducing our no-show medical appointments across Fort Bliss. We have gone from the highest no-show appointment rate in CONUS (15.7%), to one of the lowest (5.7%). However, to truly take care of our Soldiers and Families we must get below two percent. If you do not show up for an appointment, you are actually taking away three appointments – the one you didn’t show up for, the person who wanted that appointment, and the future appointment you must schedule. Be aware that Soldiers and Family members who have multiple no-shows may soon be moved to Tri-care co-pay and not able to use our military facilities.

Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day (last Saturday) was was a great day for Team Bliss! We started the morning off with our second annual sprint triathlon. We had 246 people compete in the race – well above last year’s number. The event is part of the Southwest Challenge – putting us in a new echelon of competing. Congratulations to all who participated and completed the triathlon. I also want to thank our MWR Fitness team and all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to put together such a top-notch event – great work! We are looking forward to our next triathlon in September!

The Armed Forces Day celebration continued throughout the day at Biggs Park with concerts, food, games, and a chili cook-off. Congratulations to our 1AD Public Affairs Office for winning 1st place overall in the competition. 2nd Place winner was the American Legion El Paso Post 832; and 3rd Place went to Medical Command Readiness Division. The showmanship Best in Show winner was the 11th Brigade, 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery’s “Hill-Billy Show.”

Run, Swim, Run! The Fort Bliss team aquathon will be held on June 1 at the Replica pool. The race begins at 6:30 a.m. The aquathon consists of a 5K run, 400-meter swim and another 5K run. Teams consist of two-to-three members. Divisions include men’s, women’s and mixed. On-site registration begins at 5:30 a.m. the day of the event. Registration is open to active-duty military, family members 18 and older, and DoD/DA civilians. Registration is free for active-duty and costs $5 for all other racers. This is a Commander’s Cup event. Teams with civilian members will not place in Commander’s Cup standings. For more information call 915- 744-5790.

Well, back to the gym. I participated in the Armed Forces Triathlon; however, my times were less than I wanted so I will work out hard with an eye towards our next Fort Bliss triathlon in September.

Be combat ready, be fit, be healthy, be resilient, and be Iron Strong!


Iron Soldiers – Team Bliss


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