Hall of Remembrance Opens at Fort Hood

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A private opening, featuring the photos of fallen heroes displayed across a wall, was held Dec. 22, with 189 family members of the fallen in attendance.

The first opening, with a roll call of all the servicemembers on the wall, was for honoring and healing, officials said. The public opening, they explained, was to promote awareness of the survivor outreach services program -- known as SOS -- and to acknowledge the community's support in making both the hall and SOS headquarters possible, said Janeth Lopez, SOS program manager.

"This is the result of a commitment to keep a promise," said Army Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of 3rd Corps and Fort Hood. He quoted from President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, which explains that promise: "'Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.'"

SOS provides surviving families with a connection to their Army family for as long as they want it and with whatever support they need, Lopez said. This includes programs such as financial counseling, support groups and grief camps for children. SOS staff members also make phone calls to families, send cards and publish newsletters to keep family members connected. They also reassure them that they're remembered and will be cared for, Lopez said.

While SOS is an Army program, its representatives lend their services to families of airmen, sailors and Marines in need as well, Lopez noted.

To date, 613 servicemembers have died from the 175 counties in Fort Hood's SOS area of operations, which includes northern and central Texas.

The Hall of Remembrance is inside the SOS headquarters building, which is a completely refurbished battalion headquarters. The center was established using donations of more than $40,000. Furniture, electronics and appliances were donated by the Association of the U.S. Army, Ashley Furniture, Modern TV and Appliance, Wal-Mart, the Shine Team, the Fort Hood USO, Fort Hood National Bank and Don Moore, who donated the art for the facility. AUSA funded the Hall of Remembrance.

The hall features framed personal photographs, some with heartfelt notes from families attached to the backs, Lopez said. Families chose the photograph they thought best represented their fallen hero. The result was a collage of high school yearbook photos, sketches and candid shots of soldiers on patrol and relaxing while deployed.

"From what [the families] have told us, it brings a sense of healing for them, and they know their soldier is not forgotten," Lopez said.

(Joy Pariante writes for the Fort Hood Sentinel.)