Freedom Alliance maintains an ongoing connection with the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Bliss, which is headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and we recently received a token of appreciation: a special plaque from the battalion’s commander and command sergeant major.
The WTB is a unit of the Army for wounded members, and its purpose is to heal and then transition soldiers back into service or civilian society. Freedom Alliance will cherish this keepsake, as we treasure our relationship with the members of the Fort Bliss WTB.
Every year, we invite the WTB to Cattleman’s Steakhouse, a part of the famous Indian Cliffs Ranch, for a festive appreciation event. There, they are treated to entertainment and a steak dinner, all to say thanks for serving our country.
This year included a hayride tour of the ranch, which spotlights stunning terrain and several movie sets. Prime Photo Booth of El Paso gave us a discounted rate for a photo booth; our guests posed with props and costumes and took home their fun photographic mementos.
Of all the Troop Appreciation Dinners we put on each year, this is always the most attended. This April’s marked the ninth year of treating the Fort Bliss WTB. Cattleman’s provides a generous savings so that Freedom Alliance can afford to host so many service members, as well as their families and caretakers.
This year, 380 turned out for the event, and we did our best to greet and chat with as many soldiers and family members as possible. We heard countless stories of bravery and tenacity from incredible people who inspire us.
People such as Adam, who served for 23 years in the Army as a medic. Today, it is Adam who requires medical treatment. After three combat deployments and 11 spinal fusion surgeries, he walks with a cane, and yet he is optimistic about his future, when he retires from the service in six months.
LaMon is another who will leave the Army soon, to pursue a career in photography. This soldier fell out of a helicopter that was dodging a missile in Afghanistan. He fell two stories, but he’s not defeated. He said his gear saved his life, and LaMon is happy to be alive.
Olga, whose husband is an injured service member, volunteered to help organize and staff this event. Her 8-year-old son, Luke, was also active, passing out toys and coloring books to all the children at the dinner tables.
Olga’s husband, Mark, spoke to the Fort Bliss Bugle about how he and his family found help from Freedom Alliance when they attended last year’s dinner:
“I feel that Freedom Alliance is an organization that is out there to help out individuals like myself,” he said. “When I got injured, I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen. Nobody knows what they’re going to get into when they get hurt, and they make it that much easier to open another chapter in your life.”
Thanks to that dinner, Mark was introduced to people who wanted to help him during his rehabilitation. Mark suffers from nerve damage in his arms, and he recently received two surgeries to repair injuries to his feet.
Another attendant told the reporter, “There’s a lot of married and single soldiers who are here who are geographically single, and this camaraderie with all these soldiers and families is a good atmosphere to be in. I think it helps the healing process.”
Everyone we talked to reminded us why this dinner is so important. It provides a kind of therapy that is fun and friendly, which just so happens to be outside of a medical facility. It seems sometimes a night out is the best kind of medicine.