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NEWS | March 20, 2024

First Lady Jill Biden visits military families at Fort Buchanan

By Carlos Cuebas U.S. Army Garrison Fort Buchanan

As part of her Joining Forces initiative to support military families, First Lady Jill Biden joined a barbecue with hundreds of military families on March 17 at Fort Buchanan, the only U.S. Army installation in the Caribbean.

During the formal part of the gathering, the First Lady was introduced by Imani Mitchell, Spouse of Staff Sgt. Vashawn Mitchell, Supply Sergeant with 13 years of service, assigned to the 271st Human Resources Company, a downtrace unit of the Army Reserve 1st Mission Support Command, one of the main tenants in the installation.

"Our journey as a military family has been one of resilience and adaptation. However, amid the camaraderie and support, we have faced significant challenges with the education and care of our children with special medical needs. Our struggles are examples of the importance of the issues that our guests will speak to the military community today," said Imani Mitchell during her introduction.

During her remarks, the First Lady focused on the relevance of the service and sacrifice of local military families.

"You are the brave and the bold committed to protecting our freedoms and democracy, putting others' safety above your own. You show up every day for this island. When things are hard, you are the first to help and the last to leave. You miss time with your families so other families can know security," said Biden.

The First Lady, who is also a military mother, also reflected about how taking care of military families is a matter of national security.

"You, the military kids and spouses here, may not wear the uniform, but we know that you serve your country, too. Your happiness and well-being are critical to our national security. And we have a sacred obligation to all of you," added Biden.

After her remarks, Biden spent time with and posed for photos with the military families. Her visit to the installation lasted approximately one hour.

For the Fort Buchanan military community members, the visit indicates the importance of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and the relevance of Fort Buchanan as the only United States Army installation in the Caribbean. It is also a clear recognition of the Fort Buchanan team and its tenants that proudly serve every day in the United States Army.

"It is super important that the families get recognized. When you see that the First Lady of the United States takes time out of her busy schedule to fly to Puerto Rico to be with us here at Fort Buchanan, it is something huge that cannot be underestimated," said Maj. Jay Rodriguez Bonano, Inspector General of the 1st Mission Support Command.

During Biden's visit to Fort Buchanan, the First Lady was accompanied by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi, San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero, the Adjutant General of the Puerto Rico National Guard, Maj. Gen. Miguel A. Méndez, the commander of the 1st Mission Support Command, Brig. Gen. Carlos Gorbea and the Fort Buchanan commander, Col. Charles N. Moulton, among other military leaders.

With an approximate annual investment in the local economy of over $500 million, Fort Buchanan serves a diverse military community comprised of approximately 15,000 active duty, Reserve, National Guard, Marine Corps Reserve, and Navy Reserve Center members.

The military installation also offers critical services to the Department of Defense civilian population, veterans, retirees, and their families, as well as more than 30 federal agencies in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Note: Sgt 1st Class David Hernández from the 1st MSC PAO office and Staff Sgt. Jayson Rivera from the 363rd PAD collaborated on this story)