‘Semper fidelis’ is a Latin phrase meaning “always faithful” or “always loyal.” Known as the Marine’s motto, it exemplifies a commitment to service and country. It also exemplifies Christopher Telles’ approach to life.
Christopher Telles, 29 served in the Marines from 2005 to 2013. He was deployed three times with tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines. Constant physical training and multiple firefights left Christopher with physical and emotional scars. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress, and degenerative back disease.
When he returned home, Christopher became a caregiver for his grandfather, a fellow Marine veteran who was like a father to him. He also enrolled in trade school for welding and started working part-time at a welding shop in hopes of launching a career. However, as his back condition worsened, Christopher had to quit his job because his employer would not accommodate his numerous medical appointments. Fortunately, his brother-in-law, Carlos Ramirez, connected Christopher to PRIDE Industries where he also worked.
Chris was hired as a general maintenance worker supporting PRIDE Industries’ contract at Fort Bliss. Under the AbilityOne program – a federal initiative to create jobs for individuals with significant disabilities – PRIDE Industries provides base wide facilities support to this critical Army installation. Christoper began by working on the ranges but has since moved to the Appliance Shop, where he assists with welding and plumbing, following his passion. “Getting a job with PRIDE Industries was a match made in heaven,” said Christopher. PRIDE allows Christopher to see his doctor when necessary and has encouraged him to continue his trades training. “My back was really messed up and PRIDE has really shown support by providing accommodations for doctor’s appointments, as well as for attending welding school. I don’t know of any other company that would do this,” says Christopher.
Christopher pays it forward as an active volunteer in his community. Recently, he extended his support to the American Patriots at Shadow Mountain Lake – a nonprofit group that provides rehabilitation, therapy, job networking and training to veterans like himself. The nonprofit hosts events and barbecues for veterans on a private lake that had become terribly overgrown and in desperate need of maintenance. Sixty volunteers showed with shovels and rakes, but one showed up with a tractor: Christopher. In record time, he was able to clear roads and fill pot holes while the other volunteers focused on beautification projects.
Recognizing Christopher from another event, the nonprofit’s executive director sent a letter to PRIDE’s General Manager, Jeff Belles. “It wasn’t a surprise to see a person like him helping us out,” wrote Hector Hernandez. “Mr. Christopher Telles is someone that will do bigger and better things for your company. Please thank him for us. He left his tractor there for us to continue to use; only kind-hearted people with passion and purpose do this.” Thanks to Christopher’s generosity, the area was cleared, and the grand opening remained on schedule.
Christopher lives with his wife and three children. He hopes to be a role model to them, leading by example. “It is important to me to show my children that even though I have gone through a lot in the military and now have a disability, I can still work and be a productive member of the community,” says Christopher.
After he completes his welding apprenticeship, Christopher plans to continue his education and study renewable energy at the University so he can assist PRIDE Industries in achieving Fort Bliss’s sustainability goals. “Working for PRIDE doesn’t make me feel like I am limited by my disability,” says Christopher. “PRIDE gives me the tools to work while having a disability.”