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NEWS | April 12, 2024

Gold Star Spouses Day 2024 at Fort Buchanan

By Carlos Cuebas U.S. Army Garrison Fort Buchanan

Members of the Puerto Rico military community gathered at Soldiers Plaza on April 5 to participate in a Gold Star Spouses Day ceremony to honor the surviving loved ones of military service members who died while serving their country.

Maria R. Robles, widow of Staff Sgt. José Cintrón, who died in Iraq in 2011, traveled from Vega Baja to participate in the ceremony.

"This activity was very impactful. It brought back many memories that one tries to keep numb, but they are present every day," Robles said with tears in her eyes.

"The Fort Buchanan Gold Star program has been good for me. They have stayed in touch with me and supported me in many ways amid this painful situation," said Robles.

Teresa Gotay, widow of Staff Sgt. José Sostre, who died in 2010, also participated in the ceremony.

"It is important for us, as surviving wives, that our husbands' sacrifice is recognized. We are grateful for this effort by Fort Buchanan to keep that memory present," Gotay said.

Meanwhile, Col. Charles N. Moulton, Fort Buchanan commander, reflected on the importance of supporting the Gold Star Spouses.

"America's peace and freedom have come at a high price. These magnificent men and women, among whom we have many Puerto Ricans, cherished freedom and willingly confronted dictators, tyrants, and terrorists," Moulton said during his speech, which was simultaneously translated into Spanish.

The most emotional moment of the ceremony occurred when soldiers in dress uniforms raised the Gold Star flag while playing Taps, causing many in the audience to hold back tears.

After the ceremony, participants moved to the Fort Buchanan Community Club, where they had a reception.

As part of the Gold Star Spouse Support Program, Fort Buchanan provides information to surviving military families about benefits and rights, leads support groups and activities and provides access to resources such as financial counseling and grief support.

"Surviving families can remain connected to the United States Army and Fort Buchanan for as long as they wish. The Army will never forget their sacrifices," Moulton added.

According to the Department of Defense, more than 1,225 Puerto Ricans have died while serving in uniform.

For more information about this program, interested parties can contact the Fort Buchanan Army Community Service Department at (787)707-3804 or (787)707-3948.

With an 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 and National Guard military, Marine Corps Reserve, and the Navy Reserve Center.

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.