Fort Bliss families worry as troops prepare to head to West Africa

EL PASO -- As health officials try to calm concerns about the first case of Ebola in the U.S., families of soldiers being sent to the site of the epidemic in West Africa are coping with their own fears.

"My husband has to go, " said Monica Burks, who is married to a soldier stationed at Fort Bliss. She moved to the El Paso post in July with their four children.

"They're sending them real quick," Burks said.

In the next few weeks, as many as 500 soldiers with the First Armored Division will deploy to provide logistical and air support – moving cargo, equipment and personnel -- to Liberia to help international health workers stop the deadly epidemic from spreading.

Burks, whose husband returned from Afghanistan in February, supports the humanitarian mission in West Africa but cannot help but worry.

"It's real scary. The first thing I thought of was 'Babe if you go over there and catch the Ebola virus, what about your family over here?'" Burks said.

She asked her husband, "'What are we going to do? Are they just going to let you come on back?'"

The Army notified soldiers and their families about the deployment as the Centers for Disease Control confirmed a patient in Dallas was the first confirmed case of Ebola. The man from Liberia was in Dallas visiting relatives when he had to be hospitalized.

Soldiers from Ft Bliss will join a force of up to 3,000 troops heading to West Africa under Operation United Assistance. They will get specialized training and equipment. They're expected to be in Liberia by the end of October.


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