EL PASO, Texas – Fort Bliss hosted the FY 2023 Housing the Force Summit Aug. 28 – 31 at the Centennial Banquet and Conference Center.
Headquarters Installation Management Command selected Fort Bliss as the premier installation for the event, which brought together almost 300 senior level housing professionals from Army garrisons worldwide to discuss installation housing and management for service members.
Housing in the United States military is crucial to overall readiness as it provides a stable and secure environment for service members and their families. It ensures that they have a place to call home, even with frequent relocations due to deployments or assignments. Military housing also fosters a sense of community and support among service members, creating a stronger bond within the military community. The Housing the Force Summit is usually an annual event, but this was the first one held since the COVID 19 pandemic.
“If we cannot provide safe housing to the Soldiers and their families, we will not be ready, we will not be deployable, and we will not be able to go out and fight to win if we are worried about our families not having a home,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph Ricciardi, deputy commanding general of IMCOM, who delivered the opening remarks for the event.
Ricciardi encouraged housing managers to stay engaged in training events like the FY 2023 Housing the Force Summit, because they provide opportunities to learn and meet people from different instillations to improve overall service to service members and their families.
“We can’t build for tomorrow without doing what we are doing today,” he said. “Finding a place that is furnished, clean, and safe, with no issues, making sure it is right for the Soldier, and family, all those things that happen behind the scenes, is all thanks to you.”
Throughout the summit, there were a variety of training seminars and meetings facilitated by Headquarters Instillation Management Command G4 Housing instructors. During the seminars, attendees shared their experiences and expertise.
Cesar Bueno, a civilian Army housing manager based out of Fort Carson, Colorado, talked about his experience with housing management and how important it is to take pride in your living space and work with the various units and commands.
“We can’t do this alone. It is all the team effort that was put in that makes this all possible. It is the regular routine barracks checks and leadership involvement from all echelons to include team leaders through garrison command sergeants major that makes it possible,” said Bueno.
The summit also provided the Fort Bliss Garrison an opportunity to showcase what Fort Bliss has to offer.
Col. Brendan Gallagher, the Fort Bliss garrison commander, provided an overview of Fort Bliss. He highlighted the size of the instillation, the training areas, and the El Paso community alongside the recreational activities just outside of Fort Bliss and the importance of housing as it relates to these things.
“A couple highlights about Fort Bliss, as you probably already heard, it is the home of America’s Tank Division. It is the Army’s largest divisional installation, and it also offers support to various multinational training to include the Japanese, UK, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It is the largest most complex AP3 in the Army and the largest mobilization force generation instillation, and let’s not forget to mention the ability to fire any weapon system from pistol to missile.”
Gallagher encouraged those visiting the city of El Paso to explore and see what life is like being on a military instillation this close to a major city.
“Just exit through any gates on Fort Bliss and you will be right there in the city of El Paso, where there are really great places to eat, there’s a thriving culture, and I must say, we are blessed to have such a tremendous relationship with the city of El Paso,” said Gallagher.
The summit concluded with Connie Glenn, chief of the IMCOM G4 Housing Division, addressing the force. Glenn has 42 years of service to the Army housing community, and as she prepares to retire, she noted how helping service members find a place to call home was the honor of her life.
“Imagining them being in Iraq or Afghanistan or any dangerous combat zone similar to that and wondering about all the things that goes through their minds while trying to remain calm, and I thought to myself, with all the stress they go through, I think we should make sure that worrying about having a home for their families should not be one of them,” Glenn said.
Glenn closed the seminar with these final thoughts, “I wish you all continued success in your careers, and I hope that you all continue to trade information, knowledge, and experiences. Thank you for an amazing week I just want to wish you all the very, very best, and to all of our Soldiers, I thank you every day for all that you do.”