By David Crozier, Command Communications
Sergeants Major Course Class 70 received a warm welcome to the City of El Paso August 8, during Experience El Paso. The annual event, sponsored by the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, provide the students a glimpse into what the El Paso community has to offer by way of services, cuisine, programs, businesses, opportunities and more.
The event began with an official welcome by Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence.
“Welcome to what will probably be the best year of your military career,” he said. “Welcome to Fort Bliss, welcome to the great city of El Paso and welcome to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. You made it, but you haven’t arrived just yet.”
Sellers noted the recent events which brought tragedy to El Paso and that being this is his third time back to the area, that incident hit home to him.
“I am very familiar with the community. We are like brothers and sisters and the incident really hit home,” he said. “As you think about the things that you are going to do this year, think about how you are going to help bring closure to this community and what that really means to you when you get back out to your organizations and work with your communities.”
Sellers urged the students to use this as a process to heal, help your community get better, stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with the great city of El Paso and be El Paso Strong.
Gus Rodriguez, member of the Board of Directors for the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed Class 70, and also noted the recent tragedy.
“It hasn’t been so kind to our community, but it’s really reflecting the best of what El Paso is,” he said. “In many ways it is just like the Army. When the Army goes through difficult times, the best of the Army succeeds, the spirit of the Army be comes a part of the healing process.
“So we thank you for being here with us and sharing this experience with us, And we ask you to be a part of our community as we go through and become El Paso strong.”
Rodriguez then showed a short film that showcased many of the great things about El Paso and segwayed into a PowerPoint presentation with a bit of levity.
“The one thing you learn about El Pasoans is our time is relevant,” he said. “We work on mañana time.”
Rodriguez noted that El Paso is a city of about 835,000 people, fifth largest city in Texas, and the population is 81 percent Hispanic.
“In spite of the recent challenges of last weekend, we are considered one of the safest cities for a metropolitan our size in the nation,” he said. “We are the largest border city in the world, so what a great opportunity to experience the different cultures.”
Think of El Paso as your home, Rodriguez said. We love the military and we will give you the utmost of respect and dignity.
“I hope that Class 70 will have a wonderful experience during your time here. Take advantage of who we are as a community and please be a part of us,” he said. “We like to say El Paso is Fort Bliss, and Fort Bliss is El Paso.”
Following Rodriguez was Command Sgt. Maj. Retired Lance Lehr, representing the Association of the United States Army as the El Paso Chapter’s past president, who spoke about supporting local organizations.
“I want to say welcome, because this community is going to welcome you,” he said. “That’s what they do.”
Lehr said there were many organizations out in the El Paso area that are embedded with Fort Bliss that supports the post and engages with them. When you leave here you will find similar organizations at your next duty station, support them. He added it was these types of organizations and the community who ensured the when Fort Bliss with 9,000 troops had a water shortage and was close to being shut down, the leaders of El Paso and the community said Fort Bliss was not going anywhere.
“They went to DC and addressed the problem, they found a solution and to day you have 30,000 troops here,” he said. “You have got to get in with the community and get involved.”
With the ceremonies completed, it was time for some entertainment and getting to know El Paso face-to-face. The 708 students along with the family members made their way out into the courtyard where they met more than 70 vendors, businesses, organizations, services and information to help them get a feel for the community they will live in for the next 10 months.
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence provides professional military education that develops enlisted leaders into fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world. We develop, integrate and deliver education and training readiness. We are the premier institution driving innovative development for enlisted leaders; constantly focused on readiness.
The Sergeants Major Course (SMC) educates senior enlisted leaders from our Army, sister services, and allied militaries to be agile and adaptive senior noncommissioned officers through the study of leadership, the conduct of Unified Land Operations, and the application of Joint, Interagency, and Multi-National organizations in an era of persistent conflict. The SMC is the consummate institution that prepares them to execute at all command levels throughout the Department of Defense. This Professional Military Education (PME) is provided by leveraging both resident and distributive learning (dL) educational methods and technologies.