Soldiers welcomed at Fort Bliss Welcome Center
August 21, 2009
FORT BLISS, Texas - On a daily basis the growth and progress of Fort Bliss is most easily identifiable by the large scale construction projects, but upon closer inspection, the buildings are not the only elements new to the installation. Hundreds of Soldiers arrive at Fort Bliss each month. Before these Soldiers can join their units, each must pass through the Fort Bliss Welcome Center. There has been an increase in Soldiers arrivals over the last three months compared to the same time last year. Despite the hectic pace of the Welcome Center, the goal remains the same for the military and civilian staff.
"The mission of the Welcome Center is to provide permanent party Soldiers and their families with quality reception and in-processing services," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Andrus, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Fort Bliss Welcome Center. "And to provide unit commanders with Soldiers that are fully in-processed and are SRP [Soldier Readiness Program] level one certified and ready to support expeditionary operations in a time of continuous deployments."
For enlisted personnel who are in the ranks of staff sergeant and below, in-processing is carried out over five days. Soldiers travel in a group and are assigned a movement NCO. The movement NCO is responsible for making sure Soldiers arrive at scheduled briefings on time and that issues with finance or billeting, for example, are handled before the Soldiers are dispatched to their unit.
"Our goal is to enable the new Soldiers to transition as smooth as possible and lessen the stress often associated with moving to a new installation," said Andrus.
The Welcome Center is where Soldiers are first introduced to Fort Bliss but also, it is an introduction to the "real" Army for Soldiers who have just completed basic and advanced individual training.
"Fort Bliss is the first duty station for many of the Soldiers in-processing. It is the responsibility of the movement NCOs and the Welcome Center staff to present the Army as a professional organization," said Staff Sgt. Scott Ingram, senior movement NCO.
Ingram has been assigned to the Welcome Center for seven months. The Welcome Center is augmented by 23 borrowed military manpower personnel from various units who are temporarily assigned for a period of up to six months. However, the shortage of available BMM has extended the length of duty for many of the Welcome Center staff. To compensate, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, has provided an additional 12 NCOs and four human resource specialists to help with the surge of inbound Soldiers.
Private Michael Oneill, a New Jersey native, is currently one of the Soldiers in-processing at the Fort Bliss Welcome Center. He recently graduated one station unit training at Fort Benning, Ga., and is assigned to 3rd IBCT, 1st AD.
"I am excited to be in a unit that is standing up. It will be neat to build a team," said Oneill. Being stationed at Fort Bliss is like seeing the future of the Army, said Oneill. The Fort Bliss Welcome Center in-processes more than 5,000 Soldiers annually.