“You just got orders to Fort Bliss? That’s way out there in the desert, right by Mexico. Are you worried?”

A few months ago, a social media thread began with Army spouses at other installations, whose soldiers had just received orders to Fort Bliss, Texas, asking questions that presumed Fort Bliss and El Paso were anything but desirable duty stations. Reactions from Army spouses who live here were clear, as they rejected outright the concerns of those who haven’t yet experienced this region. One Fort Bliss spouse admitted that at first, she “didn’t want to come here,” but explained that, “now… I don’t want to leave.” We encourage you to recognize exaggerated accounts of border danger and other inexperienced opinions about living in El Paso and Fort Bliss. Instead, find someone who’s here and ask them about the region, then decide for yourself.

Whether it’s amplified by the news, social media, or word-of-mouth rumors, there’s an uninformed narrative describing El Paso and Fort Bliss as desolate, boring, and even unsafe. Yet that narrative is abjectly false. Striking is the disparity between what people who’ve never been here presume about the region and what residents recognize as reality.

The weather, the culture, and the infrastructure are anything but inhospitable. We call El Paso the “Sun City,” averaging more than three hundred days of sun a year. Is it hot? We average three months with daily highs over 90 degrees, but because the relative humidity on a given afternoon is 28%, we’re not drenched in sweat. Our winter highs are in the low sixties, almost T-shirt weather.

El Paso offers over 400 years of rich history celebrated in a multitude of seasonal attractions. From outdoor concert series to Broadway theater, from a new children’s museum to our beloved zoo, you and your family will learn from El Paso’s culture. You can tour the famous El Paso Mission Trail — comprised of the oldest continuously operated missions in the United States — and end your day listening to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra in the majestic Plaza Theater.

The borderland infrastructure continues to expand. El Paso offers multiple hospitals including a new children’s hospital. Fort Bliss’s William Beaumont Army Medical Center is the Army’s newest and top-ranked medical center. The region has more than ten independent school districts and a Tier 1 research institution at the University of Texas-El Paso. El Paso International Airport — only two minutes from Fort Bliss’s main gate — offers direct flights to sixteen cities. This region educates, empowers, and employs its people.

El Paso is home to three minor-league teams in baseball, soccer, and hockey, two of which play in a new downtown stadium. Each year El Paso hosts the Sun Bowl, the NCAA’s second oldest bowl game. Our magnificent Winterfest turns our downtown San Jacinto Plaza into a winter wonderland.

The food scene in El Paso is second to none. It’s not just Mexican American fare, but a fusion of cuisines offering diverse selections. This year, chefs from two different restaurants were nominated for national-level awards. From food trucks to farmers’ markets, you’ll be challenged to experience all the exciting tastes of the borderland.

Similarly, our outdoor opportunities are awe-inspiring. Nearly everyone in El Paso lives in the shadow of the splendid Franklin Mountains, with more than 100 miles of hiking trails. Castner Range is one of the most beautiful tracts in the Southwest, seasonally carpeted in Mexican gold poppies. Hueco Tanks State Park in eastern El Paso County boasts world-class rock climbing, while White Sands National Park is a short drive north. From sporting events to eclectic food to the great outdoors, El Paso provides ample opportunity for adventure.

You may have heard news reports of El Paso in crisis given its proximity to the border with Mexico, yet El Paso annually ranks among the top ten safest large cities in the United States, and even ranked third this year. Professional law enforcement, an inter-agency presence, a significant military footprint, and an engaged citizenry help explain why El Paso is a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. Don’t believe the hype; consider the data.

Lastly, El Paso embraces its military community like few other cities. Recently ranked the seventh best city for veterans to live, El Paso declared itself the “Veterans Capital of the U.S.A.” and is proud to say, “every day is Veterans Day.” This year El Paso was one of only five cities across the United States recognized as a “Great American Defense Community.” Our soldiers and families appreciate the low cost of living and value El Pasoans’ welcoming nature. At a recent Fort Bliss retirement ceremony, 13 of 15 retiring soldiers and families chose to retire right here in El Paso.

We realize experiences at any duty assignment can vary, a product of myriad factors from operational tempo to the chain of command, from the people with whom we work to our friends who live nearby. Like other Army installations and surrounding communities, Fort Bliss and El Paso are not perfect, but they offer plenty. We live, work, and play here. We have first-hand experience. Come and see why we’re convinced it’s better at Bliss.

Maj. Gen. Jim Isenhower, is a career Army Officer and currently serves as the 50th Commanding General of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.

Mayor Oscar Leeser worked in both the private and public sector, and served as the 50th Mayor of El Paso, and currently serves as the 52nd Mayor of El Paso.

Judge Ricardo A. Samaniego worked in various fields in both the private and public sector and currently serves as the 47th El Paso County Judge.

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This article is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author.

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