Military Affairs hosts 13th ESC, Darnall leadership for dinner
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs committee held a military affairs dinner on Thursday night at the Holy Family Catholic Church social hall.
Thursday night’s special guests were leadership from the 13th ESC along with Carl Darnall Army Community Medical Center.
Robert O’Dell, Military Affairs Committee chair, welcomed both military and civilians alike, to include chamber members, along with local elected officials and other dignitaries.
After the meal, both deputy commanding officers present from the 13th ESC and Darnall addressed the crowd.
Deputy Commanding Officer for the 13th ESC, Col. William Rios III, is a Texas native. He talked about returning to Fort Hood, stating it “feels like coming home.” In fact, Rios said during 2005-2008, he had the opportunity to attend past military affairs dinners at the civic center.
“The partnership that Copperas Cove has with the military, truly is a partnership that goes both ways,” Rios said. “What Copperas Cove does for Fort Hood is a readiness multiplier. Every time I left, I knew that my family was taken care of by the greater community. Copperas Cove is no different than that.”
He complimented Copperas Cove having great schools, great community, great infrastructure, and employment for spouses and children. He also shared of the benefits that Copperas Cove receives from its relationship with Fort Hood.
“You guys benefit. We have some talented people who give back to the community.”
He gave kudos to Central Texas College, whose chancellor, James Yeonopolous, attended the dinner Thursday evening.
“My son started at CTC, and I’m a beneficiary of that and so is my family. Anywhere in the world our soldiers deploy they can get a college education.”
Presently, he said the 13th ESC and Fort Hood are very busy, with III Corps deployed, as well as the 3rd Cavalry, and the 1st brigade of the 1st Cavalry.
“The 13th itself provides logistic support for four divisions and 12 separate brigades. At any given time, we have deployed forces ourselves all over the world. Right now, we are deployed on five continents, to places including Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, Korea, and Poland.
“We always know when we do come back, you receive us with open arms.”
Rios noted the changes he noticed on his return to Fort Hood, to Coppers Cove in particular, with the “new highway and infrastructure.”
Rios was followed by Col. Michael Franco, who stood in for Col. David Gibson at Darnall.
Like Rios, Franco is a native of Texas, hailing from Del Rio. Franco said that since leaving Texas in 1992, his coming to Fort Hood was the first time he’d been back to Texas.
“Walking in these doors, reminds me of home. I’m waiting for my dad to drive by and go to the coffee shop,” Franco joked. he talked about the start of Darnall in 1965 to the new facility which opened a little more than 50 years later. Darnall serves a population of approximately 100,000, and has 1.4 million patient encounters every year, Franco said.
The medical center collaborates with institutions of higher education such as Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Baylor University, the University of Texas campuses at Austin, Houston, Arlington; as well as Texas Tech and other universities. The center also prepared 57,000 Reservists and National Guard members for deployment, he added.
“We’re committed to delivering good quality healthcare to the beneficiaries at Fort Hood.”
Franco shared about a few of the accolades the facility has received, including being awarded top honors by the Department of Defense for surgical safety, and being ranked #25 for green health.
As of Thursday, the Army Safety Health Management System awarded Darnall with a gold star designation.
Franco said the facility has a Patient Family Advocacy Council, which is made up of individuals who give feedback to the hospital, and also the “ICE” program, which stands for Interactive Customer Evaluation.
“We do make changes based on the input we receive,” Franco said.
He also briefly mentioned a few of the events Darnall is holding, such as its Baby Expo to be held in the hospital’s atrium. On June 27, the hospital is holding a surgical technology expo, and will have sports physical roundup in the summertime.
The Military Affairs committee holds eight banquets per year, hosting the leadership from each division at Fort Hood.