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Meet El Paso County’s Veteran of the Year

EL PASO, Texas -- As El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego handed over a beautiful glass plaque, the new Veteran of the Year award winner was chosen. Retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer David Garcia, who spent 20 years of his life dedicated to providing safety and freedom for all Americans, was given the new title of 2021-2022 Veteran of the Year. He is the third to receive the reward, since it's creation by Samaniego in 2019.

The award is given to veterans who have a good military career and background, as well as in recognition for what they do for their community today. The Veterans Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by the county judge, received 19 candidates for this year - but two stood out from the rest, and it was Garcia who came out on top.

In 1975, he enlisted in the Army. He wasn't always a Chief Warrant Officer of course, but from the beginning of his career to the end - he won many awards, and was stationed all over the world.

In 1995, he retired from the Army, but was still very dedicated to working with his military "brothers and sisters" as he calls them. Now, he works with associations such as the Disabled American Veterans Organization Northeast Chapter 187, where he is a Benefits Protection Team Leader and Chapter Judge Advocate.

For Samaneigo, Garcia was a no brainer pick.

"Officer Garcia, you are exemplary. The number of hours [you] put into it. The vision that [you have]," Samaniego said to him.

Garcia emphasized that this award is not only for him, but for the entire veterans community.

"My outlook on receiving this award, first of all, is it's not just about me.  I want to present this award for all the veteran sisters and brothers in the community and in the county - this award is also for you," he said.

As Veteran of the Year, Garcia will be closely involved in any veteran-related project that the county judge works on. He will also participating in numerous events in the community, including being honored at the next UTEP home football game.

He continues to work closely with his military brothers and sisters, and is happy to have won the award.

"I'm happy for all my brothers and sisters - the veterans that sacrificed for this great nation. But I am happy, my wife is happy, my friends are happy. They say it's time. I've been doing this for 20-some years, so you know I'm glad that they recognize the work that we put together is being accomplished," he explained.

Katie Frazier

Katie Frazier is an ABC-7 meteorologist and reporter.

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