The Duty Station That Raised Me


The first time I heard of Fort Bliss, Texas, I wasn’t entirely convinced that we weren’t moving to Mexico. El Paso, Texas, bordering Juárez, Mexico was not on my radar and certainly not on my “wish list” of duty stations.

Nonetheless, in preparation of my first PCS, I panic binged-watched all the episodes of Army Wives I could, researched Fort Bliss, and tried to convinced everyone that I was the brave, new Army wife that I wanted them to think I was.

I may have been 23, but I felt absolutely infantile as I embarked upon this journey. As it turns out, I knew more than I thought and yet I still knew absolutely nothing (and believe it or not, nothing was like the show Army Wives).

Although my parents raised me well and taught me to be responsible, this was my first time truly alone. I had to navigate life as a newlywed, experience our first deployment while living thousands of miles from home, balance my own career with the demands of my spouse’s career, and in general, grow up and into who I was meant to be, for better or for worse.

Recently, I had the opportunity to (voluntarily) return to Fort Bliss for a long weekend while my spouse participated in the Bataan Memorial Death March.

As we drove around El Paso, we hit our highlight reel and reminisced upon places and moments that changed our lives. I couldn’t help but be reminded of how this was the duty station that raised me.

Our first house, a teeny-tiny stucco crested place with a swamp cooler, which if you’re unfamiliar with what a swamp cooler is, then count yourself lucky. It truly makes the house more swampy than cool (especially in 100 degree weather). The yard was dust and goat heads. The guest room the exact size of a queen bed. Hand-me down furniture and a gap under the back door that allowed dust in. This was the house that raised me.

My first job post college, which transformed into a career that followed me through three PCSs. It was never an easy job and demanded the best from me. From lasers to missiles, you could say this job was a blast. This was the job that raised me.

I didn’t just join a church, but found a family away from home. I volunteered my time as a member of the finance team and led Vacation Bible School for two summers. This church fed me, prayed for me, and kept me grounded through many of my “firsts” as a new wife and military spouse. This was the church that raised me.

This duty station also introduced me to Soldier Family Readiness Groups (SFRGs) where I learned what to do (and not to do) when the time came for me to lead an SFRG of my own years later. This was the organization that raised me.

Outside of that, I formed life-long friendships with other military spouses and coworkers that kept me going week after week as I grew-up over time. They are the people, who still to this day, encourage me and have seen me at my best and worst. These are the friends that raised me.

A part of me will always feel like I’m from the city of our first duty station. There were so many life changing moments and memories formed. Everything we faced as a couple there, prepared us for where we are today. I cried when we first moved to Fort Bliss and I cried when we left.

May I always remember my time there through rose colored glasses. Fort Bliss, Texas: the duty station that raised me.

Image shows the mountainous landscape within the El Paso desert, as well as part of the city.
The duty station that raised me: View of the Franklin Mountains from Fort Bliss.


  1. Absolutely OUTSTANDING!
    “I cried when we first moved to Fort Bliss and I cried when we left” says it all!

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