Bliss, DeCA christen new $25 million commissary
June 29, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Fort Bliss marked another growth milestone when they teamed with the Defense Commissary Agency to celebrate the opening of the post’s new commissary Wednesday.
Contractors from Ledcor Construction Inc., under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwest Division, broke ground on the 114,000 square-foot facility in May 2009, and more than two years later, the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure-funded project, which is one of the ten largest DeCA facilities worldwide, became a reality.
The new facility replaced the original Bliss commissary which opened for business in 1981 and served what is now an estimated 127,000 authorized shoppers at Bliss. With more than 60,000 feet of sales space, the construction included many skylights that provide natural lighting for the store, making it an energy conservation-friendly facility.
The store features an international delicatessen and bakery, fresh sandwiches and sushi, rotisserie chicken, along with fresh produce, fresh meats, fresh seafood and more as part of a variety of more than 17,500 items.
Joseph H. Jeu, senior executive service director and chief executive officer for DeCA, opened with remarks directed toward whom he called “the most important people here " you the shopper for which the Fort Bliss Commissary was built.”
“I know you’re here to see the inside of this new, beautiful facility so I’ll keep my comments short,” said Jeu. “I got a good look at the commissary yesterday [Tuesday] so I know you won’t be disappointed today. Inside there are features to satisfy every age and taste. I guarantee that whether you’re single, married with a family, or a retiree, you’ll find this to be an exciting store.”
Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general of the 1st Armored Division and Bliss, and the host of the ceremony, said he appreciated DeCA’s newest commissary not only as the commanding general of the post, but also as a Soldier and a member of an Army family as well.
“My favorite place other than the fitness centers and the training areas is the commissary,” said Pittard, who was joined by his wife Lucille, along with other Bliss leaders and their families. “This is a world-class commissary for a world-class community. I appreciate the support of everyone that had something to do with this, whether it be the Army Corps of Engineers, our great garrison staff and even the City of El Paso.”
He added that as Bliss continues to expand, new facilities will continue to come online to serve the installation’s almost 30,000 Soldiers and their families, as well as the estimated almost 100,000 retirees throughout the region.
“I’m so excited about this shopping experience and this is only the beginning,” said Pittard, an El Paso native. “Hold on to your seats, there’s a lot more to come.”
While the cutting of a four-tiered cake and the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the customary points of the morning, DeCA brought a lot more to the table in honor of the opening of their newest facility. Bliss shoppers lined up soon after sunrise to be one of the first 1,000 customers to receive a $25 gift certificate, as well as enrollment in drawings for prizes such as a washer and dryer, an SUV and other courtesies from numerous vendors.
As another special treat, NFL star Reggie Bush, a running back for the New Orleans Saints, also joined Team Bliss for autographs and photos, which was an opportunity he said he appreciated even in rival Dallas Cowboys country.
“I haven’t been a part of something as big as this with the military,” said Bush. “I’m glad they’re happy I’m here, they obviously appreciate this store and I can tell this is big for them. There’s a lot of New Orleans fans here and that’s special, especially in Texas because most of this state is full of Dallas Cowboys fans”
Christine Griffin and her husband, Pfc. Christopher Griffin, a Soldier with Bliss’ Warrior Transition Battalion, were two of the hundreds of Soldiers and civilians on hand for the event and said as an Army family, the opening of Bliss’ new commissary was a great sight to see.
“It shows we’re definitely expanding,” said Christine, the mother of a 3-year old son. “There’s a lot of Soldiers coming in and the base is doing a great job of making things look great and compensating for the higher population.”
Christopher said as a Soldier he appreciates that DeCA’s new facility is not only large enough to accommodate Bliss and greater El Paso’s large military community, but is also state-of-the-art.
“You can tell they shot for not only quantity, but quality,” he said. “With so many people coming to this post, as well as training and deploying from here, it’s nice to have something of this scale.”
The Fort Bliss Commissary, located at 1620 Marshall Road at West Fort Bliss, is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will also be open Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on DeCA, visit www.commissaries.com.