By Amy SunseriNovember 8, 2010
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- For the past five years Gilbert Munoz of Tucson and his wife Mary have been trying to cope with the death of their son, Capt. Gilbert Anthony Munoz. Anthony died Feb. 9, 2005 just two days after his first wedding anniversary.
"He had just returned from Iraq and about 10 days after he returned he started coughing up blood, so they (medical staff) found that he had some type of bacteria that he had picked up somewhere over there (Iraq). That resulted in a lot of complications, so they weren't able to save him," explained Gilbert Munoz.
Anthony Munoz was assigned to the 7th Special Forces, Fort Bragg, N.C. His family says he enjoyed what he was doing and was good at his job.
"For us it feels like its yesterday. I don't think there's anything such as closure when it comes to the death of a son," explained Gilbert Munoz.
But, a program on Fort Huachuca is starting to ease that pain for families like the Munozes. In 2008, Army Community Services developed the Survivor Outreach Services program. Its purpose is to deliver on the Army's commitment to families of the fallen. SOS helps connect survivors with people who can help them cope with their loss.
On Friday a luncheon was held at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre on post to honor Gold Star Mothers and their families. Survivors from Cochise and Pima County attended the event.
"It's really to make [the survivors] feel special, make sure that they know that they're not forgotten and that their sons and daughters are not forgotten," explained Alma Estrada, SOS support coordinator.
"I just wanted to tell you that you're always part of the family. You'll forever be part of the (Army) family. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten. We never can forget you," Col. Timothy Faulkner, Fort Huachuca garrison commander, told the survivors while speaking at the luncheon.
He added that the fight the nation is fighting will not stop tomorrow, that there will be more sacrifices made but stated, "we as a nation will prevail."
"We really appreciate it because what I expressed to her (Estrada) for us the most difficult thing about losing a son I think is sometimes you think people are going to forget him and the death will be for nothing," said Gilbert Munoz.
His wife Mary added, "so this really helped. I know it was hard for my husband to open up but this program makes it easier."
"It's an organization you don't want to join but I'm glad that it's there for us," added Gilbert Munoz.
There is a survivor's outreach group that meets once a month on Fort Huachuca and in Pima County.
For more information on SOS, contact Alma Estrada, 533-6879/2330, or firstname.lastname@example.org.