For all of his adult life, Boise, Idaho’s Carlos Valadez has served our military. For 13 years, Valadez was in the U.S. Marine Corps, which included voluntary deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and now he’s with the Air National Guard at Boise’s Gowen Field. Gowen Field happens to be on the grounds of Boise Airport where Valadez is also in his fifth year of serving our country as a TSA officer.
When off the job, Valadez continues his service by connecting with local disabled military veterans. In 2016, the same year he joined TSA and the Air National Guard, Valadez joined the nonprofit Idaho Backcountry Veterans.
“Our main focus is to connect disabled veterans and their families with outdoor experiences to help cope with PTSD, suicide, depression and drug use,” said Valadez, who also is a disabled vet. “These experiences include hunting and fishing trips, camping, shooting and anything outdoor-related.”
Valadez is a board member, the group’s treasurer and fishing representative. Here are some of his accomplishments over the last four years:
- Rebuilt a duck hunting boat to accommodate disabled veterans
- Rebuilt an ATV to help disabled veterans easily access rough terrain
- Built over 40 wooden American flags for fundraising events, raising over $5,000
- Scheduled over 20 special events for veterans and their families
- Took over 300 veterans on hunting and fishing trips
- Collected donations and distributed them to less fortunate veterans and their families
- Coordinated three enclosed trailers filled with fishing and outdoors equipment for veterans and their families to use and keep, if needed
His cousin, also a disabled veteran, introduced Valadez to Idaho Backcountry Veterans when it first started.
“I got involved because as a disabled veteran myself, I know how hard it is to deal with the stresses veterans go through, and I can use my outdoor skills to manage them,” Valadez said. “I feel all service members and their families aren’t appreciated enough for the sacrifices they have been put through for our country. I’ve seen friends and family members struggle through life with their issues, and I don’t want to see a loved one take their own life.”
Valadez said local disabled veterans love the program. “They have someone who’s been in their shoes and is going through the same emotional rollercoaster,”
he noted. “They can open up and get stuff off their chests while experiencing nature and what it has to offer.”
He’s doing all this while successfully balancing his TSA work and family lives.
“It’s hard, but my loving wife has my back 100%, and we work as a team for the greater good,” Valadez said.
He views this as a partnership with the community. “We work hand in hand with local businesses to spread the word of what we do. If they have veteran employees going through hard times, we offer to help as much as we can.”
Valadez strongly encourages each of us to consider volunteer work. “Putting in the time to help others and teaching will improve your outlook on life and help you grow to be a better person.”