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NEWS | Sept. 17, 2018

Soldiers for life in Puerto Rico begin a new phase

By Lt. Col. Carlos M. Cuebas 1st Mission Support Command

Fifteen Soldiers from the 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve Puerto Rico, culminated their military career after decades of honorable service to the Nation, in a solemn ceremony at the installation's community club, Sept 15.

"I would do it again. Serving in the Army Reserve for 31 years helped me in all aspects of my life. Everything I have accomplished, in and out of uniform, is due to my service to the Nation," said Col. Rafael Medina Vázquez, who was accompanied by his wife Zulma Montero.

"For the family he is a hero. The satisfaction is huge because, even though we have gone through huge sacrifices, today we finally see the results," said Montero.

For First Sergeant Eduardo Alvelo Nieves and his wife Diana Meléndez, the retirement process has been a positive one.

"Today, I feel the satisfaction of having accomplished the mission. Thanks to the U.S. Army Reserve I have accomplished things in life way above the expectations I had when I joined the service 33 years ago," said Alvelo, while explaining he has been able to obtain a graduate degree in Criminal Justice, thanks to his service in uniform.

"Today my husband fulfills one of his dreams, and I am extremely proud of him. It has not been easy, but it is certainly worth the sacrifice," said a teary-eyed Meléndez.

Another Army Reserve Soldier who retired after 32 years of service was Maj. Ramón Parés Alvarez, from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

"I have a lot of conflicting feelings today. It has been a great career. The Army Reserve is my family, but it is time to take a knee and spend more time with my wife and my children," said Parés.

Ana López, Parés' wife, also reflected about the conclusion of his military career. 

"There have been tough moments, but at the end, the sacrifices bring great rewards," stated López.

Meanwhile, Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Rodriguez was full of optimism during the ceremony.

"This is not the end. This is just a new beginning. I am a Soldier for life," said Rodriguez, who retires after 25 years of service. 

Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, senior federal Army officer in the Caribbean, presided over the event.

"It has been a long road, but you made it. Thanks to you, today our command is the premier geographic command in the Army Reserve, providing a ready, lethal and tactically proficient force for the United States Army Reserve in the Caribbean. You are part of this success, and with your service, you have established a solid base for the future of this great command," said Shultz.

During the ceremony, Shultz presented official certificates of retirement, certificates of appreciation and a folded U.S. Flag to the retirees. Shultz also presented official certificates of appreciation to the spouses. 

The retirement ceremony is part of the command's efforts to invest in its human capital to continue building a resilient force, while recognizing the sacrifices of past generations of Soldiers and families.

Members of the Army Reserve who accumulate 20 or more years of qualifying service are eligible for reserve retirement when they reach age 60.