Family comes together at Fort Carson
Fort Carson is a long way from their native Puerto Rico, but it took that much distance for the Caraballo family to be reunited.
It started 27 years ago when Command Sgt. Maj. Valentin Caraballo enlisted in the Army. He was the first member of his family to join the military. Since then, there have been three others to enlist.
Having four family members in the military is not unusual. However, having all four stationed at the same installation is- and that is just the case with the Caraballo family.
"I've never seen anything like this before," said Valentin.
"I've seen a father and son (stationed at the same installation) before, but never something this big."
Valentin was first, and several years later his younger brother, Staff Sgt. Wilfredo Caraballo, joined ranks alongside his brother.
Wilfredo decided to enlist shortly after visiting his brother at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"I went there looking for a job," Wilfredo said. "Then I saw how he was living and the structure he had, and I hoped that I could provide that to my wife and kids."
The two brothers were reunited in Europe a few years later when Wilfredo was stationed in Spain, and Valentin was stationed in Germany.
As the years progressed, Valentin became a father. Two of his children, Sgt. Valentin Caraballo Jr. and Spc. Jose Caraballo, enlisted in the Army as well.
"(Joining the Army) was never something I thought about," Valentin Jr. said. "It just sort of happened."
It wasn't until April that the four Caraballos - and their families- were reunited. Jose was the last member of this Army family- now totaling 13- to arrive at Fort Carson, having previously served in the Reserves in Puerto Rico.
Family is one of the most important things to the Caraballos, and being able to have time together every day is one of the things they value.
"Parents always love to have their kids around," Valentin said. "Because you never know when you'll get together again."
As much as children try to break free from their parents, being stationed together has been a blessing in disguise for this family.
"I've always got someone in the Army to talk to about my problems with," said Valentin Jr. "I can tell him the military version and he can help me out."
As many soldiers can attest to, being away from their families is one of the hardest missions they may ever conduct.
"Joining the Army is hard enough by yourself," Wilfredo said. "But having your family there with you is great."
With his close-knit family staying in contact during one of the most family oriented times of the year was at time costly. The holidays used to be a time when phone bills would sky rocket, but since they have been stationed here, the Caraballo's have replaced phone calls with a visit in person.
"Just knowing that you have family (with you) for Thanksgiving and Christmas is wonderful," Wilfredo said.
"It's nice to come home and be able to hand out with my family," Jose said.
One of the things that Valentin has been very thankful for is the opportunity to be involved in both of his grandchildren's lives.
"I was there when the youngest was born, and now she's almost walking," Valentin said. "I've been able to see both of them grow."
Things seem to be as they were before the military changed the Caraballo's family's lives some 27 years ago.
"It's live we never left (Puerto Rico), getting to see our family every day is very special," Valentin said.
The military bring together people who would normally have been completely uninterested in knowing much less working with, each other.
But, when it comes right down to it, there is nothing better than being close to the ones you love.
"You may have the best friends in the world in the Army, but nothing is better than your family," Wilfredo said.
[ Back ]