Chad Eckles is committed to serving his country and community.

At 21, the southern California native joined the Air Force. He served four years active duty before transitioning into the Reserve.

About two years ago, Eckles decided to switch from enlisted to officer and received his commission as an information wartime officer in the Navy Reserve.

The 30-year-old has a bachelor’s in resource and technology management from Troy University and master’s in information assurance from Regis University.

He works in cyber security and information technology at Price Waterhouse Coopers and is the platoon leader for the Colorado Springs chapter of The Mission Continues.

“I got involved with the nonprofit a little over three years ago,” Eckles said. “It appealed to me because it is community focused and about making the city better and really engaging with other veterans.

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“The military had a lot of good things about it, and something I missed from the active duty side was the camaraderie.”

Eckles became platoon leader about a year and half ago and has since overseen several community projects, including clearing trails and restorative maintenance at different local parks.

Next month, the organization plans to help build horse stables at a nearby ranch with a program for veterans, he said.

“If it’s clearing a trail, picking up trash, repainting something or whatever, we’re making our community better one step at a time,” Eckles said. “And, we have fun doing it.

“One of the things I tell my platoon all the time is we all live here and that this is our opportunity to give back and make the city of Colorado Springs better.”

Eckles believes the nonprofit’s impact in the community is he was named a Rising Star.

“It was a little bit surprising,” he said. “I just love helping out the community and being there for Colorado Springs and making it better, and to be nominated, it was a welcomed shock — I’ll say that.”

Eckles also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity International and the American Cancer Society.

When he isn’t busy serving his county or community, Eckles is spending time with his wife and helping take care of their two young daughters.

“My wife is going to grad school right now,” he said. “She’s hard charging on that a lot of the time with a lot of homework, so I watch the girls. But, it’s really just me doing my part — we’re a team.”

Eckles said his advice for other young professionals is to, “Dream big.”

“Go out there with a purpose and then actually put your plans into action,” he said. “Get involved in your community — there are a lot of people that need help here. …There also are a lot of parks that are falling in disrepair because of lack of funding.

“So, if you want to make a difference, just go for it. The opportunity is there.”

What makes Colorado Springs home?

“What makes Colorado Springs feel like home is the warmness of the people here. It’s a community that really has a strong sense of purpose.”