JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
As children returned to school after their summer break, Soldiers of the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston participated in events to welcome them back to class Aug. 15.
The day began at Fort Sam Houston Elementary School, continuing the tradition of military service members enthusiastically welcoming children as they stepped off buses. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and civilians lined up to cheer and give high-fives to students.
The public school, founded in San Antonio in 1952, has kicked off the school year in this manner for many years.
Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier, MEDCoE command sergeant major, and Lt. Col. Genna Speed, 232nd Medical Battalion commander, were among the participants. Fire trucks from the post blazed their lights, adding to the excitement, as students and their parents entered the school among a roar of appreciation and applause.
“This was a great way to show the students that MEDCoE Soldiers support them and have their back as fellow members of our ‘Military City USA’ community,” Charpentier said. “Seeing their smiling faces was the highlight of my week.”
Later in the afternoon, the 187th Medical Battalion reaffirmed their commitment to Briscoe Elementary School by signing their Adopt-A-School charter before handing out much-needed school supplies to students and their families.
The 187th Medical Battalion has participated in the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Adopt-A-School program for over seven years by sponsoring supply drives, holiday gifts donations, sports days and mentoring opportunities.
This was the first time 187th Medical Battalion Lt. Col Sean Riley participated in the event, having assumed command of the unit in June 2022.
“It’s so incredibly humbling to be here with the 187th to support Briscoe Elementary,” Riley said. “The world is right with these wonderful kids and teachers, working together, supporting the children of this area. It’s a blessing.”
The battalion donated needed supplies to more than 150 students and their families. Briscoe Elementary is located on South Flores Street, south of downtown San Antonio.
More than a third of the students enrolled at Briscoe received donated supplies, making a real difference to their families and the teachers and staff of the school, who routinely buy supplies from their own pockets.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Jennifer Emerson, school principal, “knowing that the kids would be in the school. I’m so excited for the new school year and happy that the 187th Medical Battalion is here to support us as always. This means the world to us.”
The supply drive was organized by Lorraine Harper, an operations assistant with the 187th Medical Battalion. She has actively participated in the Adopt-A-School program with Briscoe from the beginning.
“I feel overjoyed. This is one of the highlights of the year, welcoming these children back to school,” Harper said. “There is nothing greater than to be able to give back.”