Arroyo is a small coastal town in the southeastern region of Puerto Rico. Since 1939 a group of U.S. veterans have commanded Post 69 of The American Legion. The post is named after Sgt. Luis G. Gonzalez, a World War I hero who was killed in combat on July 26, 1918.
In the spirit of Sgt. Gonzalez, the veterans in Arroyo are highly motivated. The veterans who comprise the “Arroyo Veteran’s Group” are members of Post 69, Disabled American Veterans (Chapter 8), and a local group, Veteranos Combatientes de Arroyo.
They have been highly active addressing the issues veterans face in Puerto Rico. They have been instrumental in the development of a new perspective that increases the self-esteem of the Puerto Rican veteran. These veterans have not only triumphed with gallantry over the harshness of war, but have returned to society eager to make an inspiring contribution.
They organized a visit to Washington, D.C., during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend to speak to different congressional leaders about issues affecting veterans in Puerto Rico. That year the veterans also wrote and lobbied for the passing of legislation establishing the official celebration of Puerto Rican Veterans Week. In 2014 Law 163 was signed by the governor of Puerto Rico, instituting the week of Sept. 18 as officially Puerto Rican Veterans’ Week.
These veterans also led efforts to erect the first monument in the plaza of the city of Arroyo. A marble plaque dedicated to the local soldiers who died in combat was revealed. There are 11 names of soldiers killed in Korea and two killed in Vietnam.
The veterans initiated an investigation that identified Puerto Rican soldiers who died in combat during the Great War. Fifteen Puerto Rican soldiers have been officially identified. The Puerto Rican Senate immortalized these 15 Puerto Rican soldiers by adding their names to the Memorial Wall.
From the Arroyo Veterans’ Headquarters, a beachfront two-story building, they offer myriad services. Veterans from all parts of Puerto Rico come to receive services at this facility. Veterans are helped with claims, educational forums are held, a veterans therapeutic support group meets, community services are provided, and family and veterans activities are held.
The Puerto Rican veteran is proud of his service. Combat is not over when the war ends - it is just beginning.