FORT BUCHANAN, P.R. -- For several months the Fort Buchanan Religious Support Office and it’s two congregations, Protestant and Catholic, received donations and delivered them to the Veteran's House (La Casa del Veterano Roberto González Vázquez) in the municipality of Juana Diaz on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2022.
Six volunteers accompanied Fort Buchanan Garrison Command Chaplain Maj. David S. Keller and Religious Affairs Noncommissioned Officer, Staff Sgt. Juan Merced Jaipersad to deliver hundreds of donated personal hygiene products such as, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, bed linens, towels, etc. to the 120 residents of the veteran’s nursing home. They were welcomed and escorted throughout the facility by Medical Director, Dr. Osvaldo Orengo Ramos and Administrative Executive Secretary, Lyanne M. Figueroa Rivera.
“When the residents were told that representatives from Fort Buchanan were coming to visit the home, they got really excited. Having been military and served their nation, is a maximum event in their lives,” said Dr. Orengo.
In recognition of Veteran’s Day, the Veteran’s home had live music during lunch and conducted a Purple Heart Recognition Ceremony. Dr. Orengo presented four Purple Heart Recipients with a Certificate that read, “With Purple Heart distinction for your trajectory of service in the United States Armed Forces. Given November 11, 2022 in Juana Díaz, P.R.” and pin with purple ribbon. The event was dedicated to one of its residents Ernesto Díaz. Díaz entered the US Army at age 17 and was immediately deployed to serve in the Vietnam War. By age 18 he suffered enemy fire and became paraplegic. The other three recipients were, Raúl Torres Torres, who upon receipt of his certificate and pin, became very emotional with gratitude; Army 1st Sgt. (Ret.) Armando Cabrera Ramos and Angel Pagán Rivera, who was a member the renown 65th Infantry Battalion during the Korean War.
During a walk-through of the facility, one of their prominent residents’ is 100-year-old Lt. Col. (Ret.) Elba Cintrón Ruiz. Although bedridden, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Cintrón energetically described her exploits as an officer, one of only 13 Puerto Rican’s recruited during WWII to the US Army Nurse Corps. She laughed a little when she described having married her husband, also a Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer in the 65th Infantry Battalion, because she out ranked him. She was a 2nd Lieutenant at the time. The walls of her room are covered with military photographs, recognitions and family pictures, as is customary to see in the resident’s rooms.
Chp. (Maj.) Keller and the volunteers from Fort Buchanan shared with the Veterans the installation’s print publication, El Morro and, spent time with them and shared stories.
The Veteran's House is ascribed to the Puerto Rico Veteran's Advocate Office it is a residential institution that provides long-term health care to Veterans of the US Armed Forces. The institution provides direct care (Nursing Home) and assisted living. “La Casa Del Veterano,” as it is known in Spanish, is regulated by the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Department of the Family and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
November 11 is commemorated as Veterans Day, in honor of all those who have served our nation. The Army believes that every Soldier is a “Soldier for Life.” Veterans can inspire and encourage the next generation to serve by sharing their positive experiences in the military. US Army Fort Buchanan is humbled and honored to have paid a visit to “La Casa Del Veterano,” we were inspired and owe a debt of gratitude to these heroes, every day.