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Fort Bliss family named 'National Volunteer Family of the Year'
By: Shelton Dodson
FORT BLISS, Texas - Every military family knows what it means to sacrifice. What it means to serve a country and a community. What it means to stand up for what is right. What it means to volunteer. Every military family does this. The Flores family stationed at Fort Bliss knows what this means more than most.
"I truly believe that if you want to make a nation great, you've got to give back to this nation," said 1st. Sgt. Tommy Flores.
Flores has spent 14 years of his life serving the in the U.S. Army. He and his wife Laura, both of whom are Las Cruces natives, have two children, 10-year-old Carlos and 12-year-old Zanahya. Both are extraordinary in their own way.
"Zanayah," said Tommy, "is the most beautiful girl in the world."
"She teaches me lessons every day," said Laura. "She teaches me patience, love, forgiveness and strength. I think she makes me a better person."
Zanayah was born with multiple disabilities. She will require constant care for the rest of her life. Her brother Carlos rarely leaves her side, especially when Zanayah and her teammates are playing baseball in El Paso's Miracle League. It is there that Tommy coaches, Laura is the team mom and Carlos is a "buddy" to his older sister and all the players. He is a true angel in the outfield.
To say Carlos makes his parents proud, would be an understatement. "He is only 10 years old, but I realize him experiencing these things is just going to make him a great man," said Laura.
Most weekends you can find the Flores family on the baseball diamond but their volunteer service doesn't end there. In fact, that's where it begins. The family also volunteers at the El Paso Rescue Mission and raises money for the Paso del Norte Children's Development Center through a fundraiser known as El Paso's Christmas Street. Laura also works as a Family Readiness Group Leader within the Armycommunity.
In April, in honor of their volunteer service, the Floreses were selected as the "Volunteer Family of the Year" for the Omar N. Bradley Chapter of the Association of the United States Army at Fort Bliss.
"The Flores family's commitment to volunteering is inspiring and displays extraordinary compassion and leadership," said Gus Rodriguez, AUSA Bradley Chapter president.
But that would be just the start of their accolades. Next, the nation would stand up and recognize their service.
In October, the Flores family was flown to Washington D.C. There, in front of a some of the highest ranking members of the U.S. Army, the Floreses were honored as the AUSA's "National Volunteer Family of the Year."
"For us, being from Las Cruces, living here are Fort Bliss and having the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., I think it will just show that everything you do matters," said Laura. "People are watching you."
Their admiration for their children is a great as the love and respect they have for one another.
"I didn't know a man like this existed," said Laura of Tommy. "You're only as successful as your spouse makes you," said Tommy of his wife. "I truly believe that."
The Flores family remains forever humble. For them, volunteering is something they feel they should do and not have to do.
Maybe Laura puts it best. "You do good things and good things happen to you."
We can all voluntarily agree to that.