BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — His job is not glamorous, it doesn’t normally get big headlines, and it’s not easy, but easy is not what led Troy Fleck to law enforcement.
In Friday evening’s Veterans Voices, Fleck says he wouldn’t be who he is today without his time in the military.
He sits in a quiet, unassuming office. His desk is filled with paperwork.
“It’s a job you get satisfaction out of by solving problems,” Fleck said.
And Troy Fleck says he gets to solve little and big problems every day.
“You can talk yourself into a fight, so to speak. Not everybody can talk themself out of one,” Fleck said. “It really is verbal judo at its finest.”
But Fleck also makes something like serving civil papers sound simple. He’s been a deputy for Burleigh County for almost 30 years.
“Some of these guys. It impresses me every day. The skills. They can take money from somebody or property and at the end, that person is thanking them. That is an art,” Fleck said.
An art you could say Fleck has mastered in his time at the sheriff’s office. Sometimes he shows up with divorce papers, sometimes it’s a subpoena. Fleck says not everybody is happy to see him coming. He’s used to it, he’s a former military policeman.
“I’m a private when I get into the business. No rank. Lowest guy on the totem pole. You could be dealing with a general, a colonel, a major, or a lieutenant. The rank structure is they’d have the power. But in MP school, they told us, ‘Do not confuse your rank with my authority,'” Fleck said.
Fleck has been deployed to Iraq twice. Once when he was just 18 years old as part of Desert Storm. The second time happened in 2003 when Fleck was a staff sergeant for the 957th Engineer company with the North Dakota National Guard.
“That was some of the first time I’ve actually been in combat. They were shooting at us, we were shooting at them. Things were blowing up, people were dying,” Fleck said.
It was just over a year until Fleck returned home. But his return to civilian life wasn’t as simple as swapping uniforms.
“It really hit home because what I learned there and had to process. When I came home, I learned not to sweat the small stuff,” Fleck said.
Fleck now handles thousands of dollars worth of collections for the Burleigh County sheriff’s office. If he does his job right, the sheriff doesn’t get sued. But he’s no pencil pusher. Last year, Fleck was named North Dakota Peace Officer of the Year.
“We had conversations about what I did to deserve it. Geez, it almost brings a guy to tears,” Fleck said.
An emotional and humbling honor for Fleck. But when he’s not out making the rounds, he also enjoys volunteering with other veterans. He’s made the trip on three of the North Dakota Honor Flights.
“I’ve been on all three of the flights. I’ve pushed wheelchairs. I’ve been to the monuments. It’s been a form of therapy for these guys. We return back, I get letters, when I was there, I’d hear veterans, they’d share stories, it was probably the first time they’ve ever talked about it,” Fleck said.
But talking it out is nothing new for Fleck. He does it for a living.
Before his unit was decommissioned, Fleck served on the 191st military police company, which was the first unit to guard prisoners in the war in Iraq. Their job was to process prisoners of war as well as take care of the prisoners’ medical needs.