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Nov 10 2021

Meet Kevin Buckles: third-generation service member, veteran and colleague

Posted by TC Energy

Meet Kevin Buckles: third-generation service member, veteran and colleague

On Nov. 11, we recognize Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada in honour of those who've served, continue to serve and sacrifice, and in memory of those who gave their lives for our freedom. 

We're fortunate to work alongside more than 200 veterans and soldiers across our company – and proud to be part of a team that values the diverse skills, experience and perspective that veterans and military personnel bring to our workplace. Thank you to Kevin and all our veterans, we are so grateful for your service.

Kevin Buckles was 18 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force the year before he graduated from high school. Little did he know just how much this decision would change his life.

Kevin served eight years in Montana and Washington as a security and education specialist before a knee injury ended his military career. He spent an additional seven years in the federal government as an office automation clerk, working his way up to regional safety manager.

A celebrated veteran, he is recognized as a professional performer by the Strategic Air Command IG and has received an Air Force Commendation Medal for work at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Kevin joined our company in August 2020 as a Construction Liaison for the Spread 6A pipeline project in South Dakota. Earlier this year, he stepped into the role of an Engagement Lead, helping bridge the gap between our work and the needs or concerns of Indigenous peoples near our assets.

It’s all in the family

An enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, Kevin is also a third-generation service person and one of 15 family members enlisted in the Air Force or Army branches of the military.

My family and I had a sense of duty joining the military. Our culture to become and belong to a warrior society is held in great regard. As a Native American, there seems to be a sense of not belonging to society. What I mean by that is feeling something in my heart that most people don’t feel — perhaps it’s the historical trauma we share. And with other service members, there are those very same connections and experiences that only – if you have been there – do you understand.”

Kevin Buckles
Engagement Lead

Giving back

One valuable tool Kevin would gain during his military tenure would enable him to give back to a tight-knit Indigenous community of which he’s so proud and honoured to be a part. 

In 2010, he established a company named Native American Construction Training Management where he partnered with the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters to provide career opportunities to more than 70 Native Americans nationwide.

When I was in the military, I depended on my team for life and death help. I love my country, and I love my people. I think if we can help Indian Country, then that’s a fight worth dying for.”

Kevin Buckles
Engagement Lead

As a member of the American Legion, the largest wartime veterans service organization in the U.S., Kevin is also committed to giving back and championing opportunities for veterans in his own community.

“At our local Legion post, we’ve supported burial detail for fallen veterans, local events and post-secondary education scholarships for local students,” Kevin said. “Unfortunately, our post has not been as active because of the pandemic, but we are working on plans for a membership drive.”

In recognition of their service, burial detail provides fallen veterans with an Honor Guard to perform a gun salute, play Taps – the National Call of Remembrance and provide pallbearers upon request.

Recognize and honour

Although Kevin gained much from his time in service, it was not without a price. He had to spend extended periods of time away from his family, which ultimately resulted in a divorce, and carries many memories of loss. His cousin was killed during the Gulf War in the early 1990s and his father, also a veteran, passed away a few years ago due to illness. 

This Veterans Day, you can find Kevin at Greenwood Cemetery in Wolf Point, Mont., where he is every year. “I’m going to go up to Veteran Circle, put a wreath on my dad’s grave and have a cup of coffee with him,” he said.

Being in the service gave me so many valuable skills and contributed to who I am, although not without a price — It’s a great duty to protect, but the personal cost is high.”

Kevin Buckles
Engagement Lead

How you can observe Remembrance Day and Veterans Day: