News: 'Wagonmasters' help celebrate hospital anniversary
Story by Staff Sgt. Casey McGeorge
EL PASO, Texas – Being a child is supposed to be an easy part of one’s life. School, homework, playing with friends and what’s on TV that night is all one should have to worry about. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
For many children in America, their days are filled with treatments and visits from specialists. They are more mature than others the same age-forced to stick to a scheduled regiment, not always being able to participate in normal activities. However, for a few hours one day, that wasn’t the case, thanks to soldiers of the 15th Sustainment Brigade.
The “Wagonmaster” soldiers helped the El Paso Children’s Hospital celebrate its anniversary, Feb. 9, in downtown El Paso. They had one clear goal in mind: give the children the opportunity to have fun by letting them see a military vehicle up close and wearing a soldiers combat gear.
The EPCH is the only children’s hospital in El Paso. Since its opening, it has provided health care for more than 30,000 children, in both inpatient and outpatient care, says Larry Duncan, CEO.
“Roughly 15 percent of the children we see are related to the military in some way,” said Duncan. “I think it’s great for our service members to know when they are deployed, there is someone here to take care of their children, while they are taking care of us.”
The mission of El Paso Children’s Hospital is to provide compassionate, coordinated, family-centered care for children, with a dedicated commitment to excellent patient outcomes, inclusive leadership and innovative pediatric research and education. With more than 100 private pediatric rooms, state-of-the-art equipment and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit among its amenities, the hospital is more than able to accomplish its mission. Ultimately, it still comes down to one precious item, the children.
“An event like this is excellent,” said Duncan. “Seeing these guys in uniform just brightens the kids’ day. It’s also a really good diversion for them.”
The Wagonmaster soldiers who spent their Saturday volunteering wholeheartedly agreed.
As tiny hands and faces went from table to table learning about different healthy life choices, a smile would creep on their faces and eyes would open wider as they approached Humvee with soldiers outside of it. Many tried on helmets and body armor, feeling what it’s like, albeit for a moment, to wear what those in uniform wore.
One child even almost teetered over as the gear weighed just as much as she did. The smile never left her face as she struggled to stay on her feet. Smiles like hers brightened the day of those volunteering as well.
“I just love seeing the little smiles on their faces,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sylvia Woodley, detachment sergeant for the 606th Movement Control Team, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th SB. “I don’t know if it’s the uniform or the vehicle, but the children just light up when they come this way. It really touches your heart.”
Woodley’s soldiers agree.
“Seeing some of them made me kind of sad at first, seeing what they were going through,” said Spc. Admira De Pina, a transportation management coordinator, also with the 606th. “But I was glad to help give them the opportunity to come out and have some fun.”
“These children have so much heart in them,” said Spc. Diana Tedesco, also a transportation management coordinator with the 606th. “You see their faces light up for the smallest thing that we tend to take for granted. They are going through so much. This was more than worth my time to come out here and spend it with these kids.”
“I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday than with these children,” said Woodley.