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Monday, February 8, 2016

Red Cross Honors National Guardsman for Service, Sacrifice and Saving Lives

by Cari Roberts 

Physicians Assistant Victor Palomares volunteers with his whole heart. He deploys overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard. Each time he volunteers to do so, he makes life changing professional sacrifices. He has closed his medical practice here in Colorado to serve his country as a flight surgeon, leading a team of medics in the field. Upon return, he rebuilds that practice and strengthens his local community connections. Victor, his team, and the service members they care for are far away from family when they deploy. He has often missed family holidays and his children's birthdays.

Many American families have a long, strong family tradition of military service, often times going back generations. Victor came to the United States when he was eight years old. His family moved here from Mexico and built a life. When asked about the motivation behind his military service, Victor says simply and humbly, "It was necessary to join the Armed Services, to give back what's been given to me." In this profound way, he is helping to ensure that others have the same opportunities.

I asked Victor if there was a bright moment that made missing holidays and putting his professional career on hold worth it. In his gentle, thoughtful way he described the thanks he would receive from 18- and 19-year-old soldiers, deployed to a far-away country, often injured, always missing their parents and families, and each in need of encouragement. Many of them have sought him out here in Colorado to say thank you again. Victor is still involved in their lives, still encouraging them today. That, he says, is how he knows he's doing something worthwhile.

These acts of kindness provide moments of grace in times of chaos. For that, we honor and appreciate Col. Victor Palomares at the Red Cross Heroes Soiree on Friday, Feb. 26. The event is sold out, but we encourage you to read about the heroes we will be honoring, share their stories, and support the Red Cross by making a donation or attending the Heroes Soiree After Party, which is open to the general public.

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