El Paso, TX — For many hospitalized children in America, their days are filled with treatments and visits from specialists. This keeps them from participating in normal activities. However, thanks to Soldiers of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, the children at the El Paso Children’s Hospital took a break from the rigors of their medical routine.
The “Wagonmaster” Soldiers helped the EPCH celebrate its anniversary in downtown El Paso, Saturday. They had one clear goal in mind – give the children the opportunity to have fun by letting them wear a Soldier’s combat gear and see a military vehicle up close.
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, both inpatient and outpatient, said Larry Duncan, hospital CEO.
“Roughly fifteen 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 well-equipped to accomplish its mission.
“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.”
As tiny hands and faces learned about healthy life choices, eyes would open wider as they approached the Soldiers and the Humvee. Many tried on helmets and body armor, putting themselves in the boots of the Soldiers.
One child almost teetered over from the weight of the gear. The smile never left her face as she struggled to stay on her feet.
“I just love seeing the little smiles on their faces,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sylvia Woodley of 606th Movement Control Team, 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde. “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.”
“Seeing some of them made me kind of sad at first, seeing what they were going through,” said Spc. Admira De Pina of 606th MCT, 142nd CSSB, 15th Sust. Bde. “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, 606th MCT, 142nd CSSB, 15th Sust. Bde. “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.