NEWS | Nov. 7, 2016

Casualty Liaison Team returns to Puerto Rico

By Maj. Ruth Castro 1st Mission Support Command

Five Soldiers from the 271st Human Resources Company (HRC) returned to the island after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan on November 4.

Capt. Orlando Garcia, Casualty Liaison Team (CLT) Detachment Command, commented on how he felt being back home. “I am excited to be back,” said Garcia. “We completed our mission, and we did it successfully. Everyone was very pleased with our performance. I am very excited to see my wife and kids that are waiting for me.”

Garcia thanked his Soldiers for being part of this successful mission. “If it weren't for their hard work and dedication, our mission would not have been successful,” continued Garcia.

During their deployment, the detachment was split up in two different hospital locations, Bagram and Kandahar. Their mission consisted of maintaining records of the Soldiers, civilian and Department of Defense contractors admitted for care.

“We were the liaison team between the hospital and the units,” said Garcia. Depending on the circumstances of each, we would track and send the proper reports needed to notify family members. It was a pretty tough mission because we dealt with casualties, but we were able to complete our job successfully.”

Being away from family for an extended period can be tough especially when working in a stressful environment overseas. “The hardest part of this deployment for me,  was being away from my family,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alejandro Escalera, CLT Noncommissioned officer in charge. “It was difficult seeing the different patients that came into the hospital, but we had a mission to accomplish. We all tried to keep our stress levels low by staying active whether by going to the gym or playing sports. It helps pass the time and get us through some rough times.”

While the five Soldiers waited for their luggage, their families waited for them outside the airport doors with banners, balloons and a lot of emotion.

“I am very excited that he is back home now,” said Escalera’s wife, Jessica Aponte. “The deployment was manageable with the support of the Family Readiness Group. Now I am excited because we are going to surprise daughter at school.”

For many family members, Soldier alike, a deployment is challenging, and it takes the support of family and loved ones to get through it. “I am very grateful for the Army Reserve and the Family Readiness Group,” said the wife of Garcia, Denisse Berrios. “I had to work with my children psychologically, especially my daughter who if very attached to Orlando. I always received the support I needed from everyone, and I am very content with the outcome. I am excited that he is back home with us. I have waited a long time to have him back!”