A lifelong Fort Lee resident and Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, who recently returned from Afghanistan, has dedicated his life to service of country and community and says he’d like to see more young veterans do the same.
Christopher Valacer, 27, a 2003 graduate of Bergen Catholic High School, served from February to November this year at Camp Sabalu-Harrison, Afghanistan as a member of the 310th Military Police Battalion.
Since returning to Fort Lee, Valacer has been become an official member of the Fort Lee VFW—Post 2342 and is considering a career in law enforcement.
He’s also a member of the American Legion in Leonia and helps out with the Wounded Warriors Project.
Valacer said he used Facebook to raise the money, posting links every chance he had to get online.
“I’ve always believed in public service; I just have,” Valacer told Patch. “And from a young age, I’ve always wanted to wear a uniform. I knew I always wanted to help people, and as I got older, I just kind of realized that I was really more and more cut out for it. I just sort of gravitated towards that way of life.”
Valacer has been back from Afghanistan for about five weeks and is currently in the midst of about 90 days of transitional leave, after which he’ll “go back to work,” as he says.
He said he used to think the 90 days off after a certain period of active duty were unnecessary, calling it “nonsense.” But since he’s been home, he’s changed his mind and has been relishing the time to relax, reinvigorate and enjoy some of his hobbies like painting and baking bread.
Valacer has also enjoyed his involvement with the Fort Lee VFW. He said he gives the members a lot of credit for continuing to “serve the community the way they do,” but he also said he hopes to see some younger veterans step up and “continue the legacy.”
“We’ve been at war for 10 years now,” Valacer said. “There are a whole lot of veterans that are in our area. People need to start getting involved in those organizations and start to pick up the flag and keep going with it.”
He said he believes a kind of “a call to arms” is needed.
“Younger generation veterans [should] start showing up to these meetings and to start taking an interest in the organization and keep it going,” Valacer said.