FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico -- Soldiers of D Company, 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion said goodbye to their loved during a farewell ceremony at Fort Buchanan Jan. 21.

The Soldiers departed for Fort Dix, N.J. where they are will preparing for their upcoming mission in Africa as a art of Combined Joint Taskforce Horn of Africa.
According to the CJTHA Web site, the task force conducts operations in the East Africa region to build partner nation capacity in order to promote regional security and stability, prevent conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests.

"With the mobilization of D Company this will be the third company from the 402nd battalion to go to Africa," said Sgt. 1st Class Luis Robles, the first sergeant for Company D.

Family members at the ceremony shared a looming sense of melancholy but many who have experienced deployments before felt prepared to handle the absence of their servicemember.

"You never get used to this, each mobilization is different," said Doraliza Marcano Collazo, a teacher and spouse of a deploying Soldier. "It's like losing a family member."

One of the greatest challenges Marcano said, was keeping a routine going in the absence of her husband but she has found that it is necessary, especially when raising six children.

Aside from her normal duties as a spouse on the home front, Marcano is also a volunteer with the Army Reserve's Family Readiness program.

As a volunteer Marcano said she will be there when she can to help other families, who might not know what it is like to send a Soldier on their first deployment.

Another difficult moment families might arrive at, Marcano said, was at night when and a spouses home seems empty.

Help with coping with this feeling, Marcano said, is how family readines groups and the Army Reserve community takes care of each other.

"With this being the third mobilization, I have the confidence of knowing where to go, who to call," Marcano said.

By creating networks and fostering friendships with other families Marcano said inexperienced spouses can reach out to their peers for answers to questions they might have.

With the 402nd CA BN's family readiness group, the various garrison support offices, and Army Community Services division available to assist family members, Soldiers of Company D will be free to concentrate on their mission.

"We are going to be responsible for five countries. Djibouti is going to be the main base but we are going to be operating in Uganda, Kenya and Comoros," said Capt. HAfActor Orsini, commander of Company D.

Orsini said his Soldiers have been preparing for this mission for more than a year and are eager to get started.

"The support you receive from your family is very important to the mission," he said.

As a commander of civil affairs soldiers, Orsini knows that each one brings with him unique skill sets that might not necessarily be derived from the military but can contribute immensely to the success of their mission.

"There are a lot of challenges right now over in Africa but we're ready; we've been training a lot and we've got a great team and we're going to do great things over there," said Orsini.