Story by Bryan Gatchell on 04/08/2019FORT BENNING, Ga. Spouses of fallen military service members and their children and senior leaders at Fort Benning gathered for a Sunday brunch April 7 at the Benning Club.
The Spouses Recognition Brunch closely followed Gold Star Spouses Day April 5, which is a day "to honor the husbands and wives of fallen service members who keep their loved ones' memories alive," according to the Department of Defense.
Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning commanding general, spoke at the ceremony and emphasized the firmness of the Army's commitment to its Families.
"We will continue to celebrate the enduring relationship we have today," he said. "We have some that just left the ranks a year ago and some 10 or 15 years ago. You can rest assured the relationship we have now the bond that we have now will continue."
The MCoE Band brass ensemble played as the attendees signed in with SOS personnel at the front of the hall and met with one another. Those at the brunch dined on prime rib, chicken, green beans and scalloped potatoes, salad, and a variety of pastries.
"This is a great way for us to come together, share some fellowship, share a great meal, and reaffirm our bonds together and reaffirm that us who still wear the uniform and Fort Benning are always here for our spouses," said Col. Clinton W. Cox, the Fort Benning garrison commander, during the event.
Rachel Massey, whose late husband Maj. Franklin Massey was honored during the ceremony, attended the brunch with her daughters Aiva and Eden. This is her second year attending the brunch.
"We're blessed to be here," she said. "We've been so far removed from the military. Before my husband died, he was in the National Guard, and we didn't do a lot of things with the military anymore. I like to bring the kids back here to remind them that their dad did some amazing things for their country."
The Spouses Recognition Lunch is one of several events throughout the year to honor the Families of fallen service members. SOS also hosts a golf scramble for surviving fathers, a brunch for surviving mothers, and a holiday event for surviving children.
In addition, SOS at Fort Benning provides Families of fallen military service members support coordination so that survivors can connect with support groups, spiritual resources and bereavement counselors. SOS financial counseling provides survivors help with investing, estate planning, tax issues and basic budgeting.
"We here at Fort Benning, not just survivor outreach but the whole community, are here to support them and service them," said Megan Baumgartner, Fort Benning SOS coordinator. "We're here any day and every day."
And then of the brunch, Baumgartner said "this is just kind of to highlight them and give them a very special day."
Brito, during his remarks, made clear that the event was also special for the service members who remember their fallen teammates.
"These Soldiers, all the other service members that were recognized today, each had a battle buddy," said Brito. "They didn't do anything alone, and they didn't leave of us alone as well. They stay in our memories today as I know they stay in your hearts today."