Soldiers bring cheer to sick children
May 19, 2010
FORT BLISS, Texas (Army News Service, May 19, 2010) -- Soldiers from Fort Bliss gave patients at the Sierra Providence Health Network Children's Hospital in El Paso, Texas, a taste of Army life, May 1.
Eight-year-old Jorge Haro said he found it peculiar to see the hospital's parking lot full of Army trucks and other military vehicles from the Soldiers of 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division and the 591st Military Police Company.
"It was really cool," said Jorge. "I think they came to cheer us up."
Cindy O'Neil, the mother of a 17-year-old patient named Christopher, said she was surprised to see Soldiers interacting with the children and felt they lifted her son's spirit.
Christopher expressed his desire to join the Army since he was a young child, said O'Neil. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and took the news very hard, she added. According to O'Neil, her son did not participate in a parade the hospital held the day before the military display, but in speaking with several Soldiers the following day, he became motivated and put on Army gear and climbed inside military vehicles.
"Riding this bad boy is pretty high tech," said Christopher.
Christopher said this was his first time mingling with Soldiers and found them welcoming and informative.
Many of the children are confined to the hospital and therefore cannot visit places like Fort Bliss -- so why not bring Fort Bliss to them, said Sgt. 1st Class Omar Alvarez, the operations officer for Brigade Support Battalion, 5-1 AD.
"To see the expression on their faces alone is well worth it," said Alvarez.
Alvarez said a lot of thought went into planning the visit. It was an all-inclusive event so children who were not able to make it to the parking lot did not miss out. Soldiers went to children's rooms and showed them gear Soldiers wear in combat.
Spc. Justin Woodward from the 591st Military Police Company who supported the event, said he was excited about partnering up with 5-1 AD. He said seeing the enthusiasm reminded him of children at an amusement park.
Woodward said that he feels his job as a Soldier is important, but bringing cheer to children in a hospital is even more rewarding.
"Seeing all the children [in the hospital] light up, makes it a whole lot better," said Woodward.