El Paso, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso, home to one of the nation’s largest military installations in Fort Bliss, has been named one of the five communities across the nation selected as a 2023 Great American Defense Communities.
“Communities are chosen through a competitive nomination process based on integration, support, and collaboration with installations and community-building efforts, such as educational and employment opportunities,” according to a news release.
This year, the Great American Defense Communities Program had a special focus on innovation, workforce development, education, entrepreneurship, and supporting young service members.
“The City of El Paso and Fort Bliss have grown together through daily interaction since the establishment of Fort Bliss in 1854. The City of El Paso is Fort Bliss and Fort Bliss is El Paso, as seen by the more than 57% of the military assigned to Fort Bliss who live in the El Paso community with their families,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.
The city has focused its efforts on increasing its support of the military and veteran community by developing a variety of initiatives in honor of the military, according to the news release. In addition to hiring a chief military officer, the City has developed the following:
- Veteran Resources Website: The website, hosted by the City, provides information in a centralized location to help veterans and their families find resources and services.
- Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee: This committee was formed to serve as a source of information related to the status, resources and services available within the El Paso community to the City’s large veteran population.
- Sun City Bliss: A video program to promote services to our veterans, active military, and their families, the City of El Paso which airs on the City and Fort Bliss’ social media platforms, E-newsletters and City TV.
- Annual Veterans Luncheon: The City of El Paso hosts an annual Veterans Day Luncheon for its more than 700 employees who are veterans.
- Veteran Employment Incentive: In 2015, City Council approved an economic development incentive policy which includes a bonus rebate (property or sales tax) for companies that actively employ veterans and establish a formal veteran hiring program.
- The Bridge Fellowship: The Bridge is a fellowship program launched by the City of El Paso in partnership with Fort Bliss to help military service members transition into successful post-military careers.
Visit DefenseCommunities.org to learn more. For more information, visit ElPasoTexas.gov and click on the veterans tab.