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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2016

Honoring our Veterans and their Families

By Maj. Ruth Castro 1st Mission Support Command

JUNCOS, Puerto Rico – Veterans, family members, and fellow employees gathered at the Amgen headquarters for a Flag raising ceremony and Veterans Day event on November 10.

Brig. Gen. Alberto C. Rosende, commanding general for the 1st Mission Support Command and guest speaker of the event, took a few minutes to discuss the importance of Veterans Day and thank every Veteran and their family for their dedication and sacrifice.

"Thank you very much for inviting me and giving me the honor to address you on Veterans Day," said Rosende. "I am moved by the level of commitment and demonstration of valuing of Veterans and what they bring to your company."

"I was on your website and was pleased to find everything that you are doing to attract Veterans," said Rosende. "The track that you are putting them on within your organization is a great testament to the strength of your organization to recognize and bring them in."

Amgen Manufacturing Limited facilities identify several diverse groups and have incorporated the Amgen Veteran Employee Network (AVEN). Rene A. Berlingeri, President for AVEN, commented on the high level of commitment Amgen has for their Veteran employees.

"Amgen takes care of us Veterans," said Berlingeri. "They take care of our families and us while deployed." Berlingeri's employment with Amgen began in 2002, and since then he has been through two different deployments. "We have a lot of commitment to our Veterans here," continued Berlingeri. "I want to take this opportunity to tell you how AVEN is very relevant to the Amgen force. This diverse group has several strengths."

Rosende also praised the different capabilities that Veterans bring to any organization.
"It's that common purpose and shared sacrifice that Veterans lived through and realize they don't do it alone," continued Rosende. "At the end of the day, when you're on the battlefield, you're not doing it for the Flag even though that's your initial motivation to enter the service. You're doing it for the person that is to your left and your right; and when you return, you don't lose that sense of camaraderie, cooperation, and teamwork. That is what Veterans bring to the table, that sense of collected effort, unified purpose, comradeship, and teamwork. It's just something that comes naturally to Veterans."

Rosende talked about the history of Armistice Day and how in 1954, the word Armistice was struck and Veterans was added as a way to acknowledge and celebrate those that were returning home from war.  

"We can't speak about Veterans Day without thinking of those that didn't return," said Rosende.  "Even though we are celebrating those that are serving or those that have served, it's tough for us to wipe away the memory of those we served with and know were left there."

Rosende reminisced about his experiences as a battalion commander in Afghanistan ten years ago. "I know that I walk around with five names engraved in my brain that I think of every single day," said Rosende. "It's those five Soldiers that I lost when I was a battalion commander in Afghanistan. It pains me to think of them now because, at that time, their children were between the ages of 10 months and five years."

"I sometimes wonder what it has been like to go on and live every single day with the sacrifice of knowing their parent isn't there," continued Rosende. "It's hard for me to think of that because I know how important my parents were to me. I know how important they were, not only to provide for me but also give me the mentoring, teaching and coaching that parents provide individuals. That hopefully is why I am standing here today. We are all here today as a direct result of them, and so I pray every day that someone is in those children's lives that are providing that leadership, mentorship and guidance as they grow because we all know we all need it regardless of our age."

On Veterans Day, we look at what has made our nation great. It's the shared sacrifice of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen, and civilians that have stood the test of time and stood in their place in line to support the values and everything that our country is built on. It is really what has made our country great and what continues to make it great, said Rosende.  

Before closing, Rosende wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank all the family members of Veterans. "They are the ones that sacrifice," said Rosende.

He shared his story of when he told his then 13-year-old son that he was about to deploy again. Before letting him know, he asked him how things were while he was gone. Rosende's son responded, "You know pop; we always do everything together; we are always together, so your absence was huge. It was a big issue for us, but mom is really strong, and she carried the weight for both you and her."

Rosende then asked his son how things were when he returned. At first, his son was unsure of how to respond but then replied. "It was hard then when you left. When you are here, we are always changing. When we have new experiences, we share them. When you were gone, the three of us went in one direction while you went in another. So, when you came back, mom had taken care of everything for you, so there wasn't any place for you."

Rosende shared his personal story to remind every that every Veteran needs time to find their place again once they return. For Rosende, his family told him it took him about a year to get back to normal, even though it was a new normal.

"When veterans come back to our organizations, we have to work with them to help them find their place again," said Rosende. "Whether it's at work, home, church, or within the community, they have to be assisted in finding that place."

"We are all eager to get back to that place where we were when we left," continued Rosende. "My son said it was about a year before I became normal again. There's a new normalcy to our lives, and we have to accept that."

"There is going to be a new normalcy as we reintegrate our Veterans back into society but we have to welcome them with open arms," reiterated Rosende. "The family becomes disrupted, so there is friction at home, work becomes disrupted as well. We have to be cognizant of how we approach that reintegration and how we support their families while they are gone and when they are coming back."

Rosende once again emphasized that Families sacrifice an awful lot especially those whose Soldiers come back with physical or mental scars and require further rehabilitation and assistance. "Those primary caregivers go through some difficult times," said Rosende. "It is important that these families are remembered, supported, assisted and glorified for the work that they do to help those veterans as they come back."

"Reintegration can be a challenge, but we can overcome it so we shouldn't shy away from that," concluded Rosende.