Boots & Badges: Laredo Vet Center takes part in care package drive for deployed service members



LAREDO, Texas — The Laredo Vet Center hosted a drive thru and drop off event on Friday, October 26, 2018.

The Vet Center took part in the Boots & Badges Care Package Drive, a collaborative effort between local businesses and organizations uniting resources and people in order to send needed items to deployed service members from Laredo, Texas.

“This is something we are proud to be a part of and we appreciate our community’s support,” said Angelica Garza, director of the Laredo Vet Center. “Care packages help remind our service men and women that we are thinking of them, especially when they are away from their families and homes.”


Director Garza’s sentiment was echoed by Lisa Quirk, a volunteer at the event whose husband, Army Sgt. Joseph Quirk, is currently serving a 12-month deployment.

“I feel honored to have been asked to volunteer for this event because my husband has deployed three times,” said the proud Army wife. “He’s occasionally let me know that being deployed overseas can be difficult for many service members; however, small, simple items like a hand-written note, a drawing from a child or a package with some of their favorite snacks helps make the experience better because they feel the appreciation from those us back home.”

For Laredo resident, Hector Hernandez, the drive proved to be more than just an opportunity to show support for local deployed service members.

“My two sons Ivan and Jack are four and two years old, and while some might say they are too young to fully understand what is going on, I thought having them physically hand the donations to the volunteers would help me teach them about the importance of giving back to their community, so when I heard about this event in support of our Veterans, I thought it would provide me with a great chance to set a good example and pass on this important life lesson.”

More than 600 individual items ranging from toiletries, snacks, reading materials and playing cards were donated within the first hour of the five-hour long event. In the end, a grand total of approximately 1,100 individual items were donated.

Although the drive thru and drop off event was technically just for one day, the center will continue to accept donations for the care packages up to 3 p.m. on November 9, 2018.

The Vet Center will then join other participating organizations on November 10 at a separate location for the drive’s culmination.

Vet Center logo with drop shadow effect added for better contrast with white background. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs graphic reformatted by Luis H. Loza Gutierrez)

Vet Center logo with drop shadow effect added for better contrast with white background. (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs graphic reformatted by Luis H. Loza Gutierrez). The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems. Vet Centers are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Laredo Vet Center is one of more than 300 Vet Centers are located throughout the United States.

Vet Centers provide community-based counseling, outreach, and referral services to eligible Veterans who served in any combat zone or area of hostility, experienced military sexual trauma, served as part of a mortuary affairs or drone crew, and their families. Services include counseling for transitioning and readjustment, military sexual trauma, and issues related to marriage, family, and bereavement. Referrals to VA mental health care, employment, education, and other services and benefits are also provided.

Veterans and their families looking for more information or assistance can find directions and number to the Vet Center or VA facility nearest to them by using the following hyperlink here to the Vet Center National Directory. 

(Disclaimer: Mentioning of any private individuals, organizations or businesses is strictly for news and informational purposes only. No federal endorsement intended or implied.)


Luis Loza Gutierrez

Luis H. Loza Gutierrez joined the Department of Veterans Affairs in October of 2017 and serves as a public affairs specialist for VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System more commonly referred to as VCB.

In addition to winning multiple awards as a writer, editor, photographer, illustrator and graphic artist during his more than 10 years in the U.S. Air Force as a public affairs specialist and photojournalist, L.G. (as he was called by his fellow Airmen) also served as a member for the Grand Forks Air Force Base Honor Guard in North Dakota.

He volunteered to deploy out of cycle twice in a period of less than 18 months, the second of which included a six-month tour as a member of the public affairs team at United States Force-Iraq headquarters at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

The former non-commissioned officer returned home to the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas in November of 2015, and feels enthusiastic and honored to continue to serve his fellow brothers- and sisters-in-arms as a member of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.