Friday, November 7, 2014

Not taking no for an answer

Reginald Reeves to be honored for a lifetime of service

Express Staff Writer

Retired Lt. Col. Reginald Reeves will be honored Wednesday with a prestigious Department of Defense award. Photo by Roland Lane

     For retired Lt. Col. Reginald Reeves, no good deed goes unrewarded. When a hospital in Grand Turks and Caicos Island helped rehabilitate a group of stranded American soldiers, Reeves heard the facility was lacking medical supplies.

     “I’ve got a way to say thank you,” Reeves said to an Arlington, Va.-based Army buddy. “You go down the hall at the Pentagon to the Air Force side, and you tell them I want an airplane here in Idaho. If they’ll send me an airplane, I’ll load it with medical supplies for the hospital.”

     He was true to his word, gathering $300,000 worth of necessities such as EKG machines, beds, bandages, computers and linens.

     Reeves, a resident of Idaho Falls and Sun Valley, will be awarded the Outstanding Public Service Award from the U.S. Department of Defense on Wednesday, Nov. 12, by Lt. Col. Richard Goodman at the American Legion Hall in Ketchum. He was nominated by Brig. Gen. Timothy Lake of Washington, D.C., and the award was sanctioned by Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

     “Throughout his lifetime, [Reeves] has continued to exhibit a strong sense of patriotism, good citizenship and public responsibility that have resulted in promoting the overall goals of the Department of Defense,” the citation reads.

     The award recognizes Reeves’ more recent philanthropy over the past 12 years—though it merely represents a fraction of Reeves’ lifetime of service.

     A semi-retired lawyer, Reeves moved to Idaho at age 18 to attend the University of Idaho in Moscow. While a student, he helped organize the first college-wide blood drive in the country. Throughout his life, Reeves has donated more than 33 gallons of blood through the Red Cross, he said.

     Reeves said he looks for underserved areas, places where people are falling between the cracks, and tries to meet their need. His Military Medicine Program helps veterans and their families get their prescriptions filled, despite the vast distances between southern Idaho locales and military hospitals.

     “For a lot of people, they were either not able to travel or it wasn’t convenient to travel to get prescriptions filled,” he said.

     The Air Force won’t mail medication, Reeves said, so he arranged a private way to transport prescriptions. Through his military networking, he’s established contacts at two proximal military bases, in Mountain Home and Ogden, Utah. People in Reeves’ program get their prescriptions filled at one of the two bases—his contacts there mail him the medications and he distributes them to southern Idaho veterans.

     On top of everything else, Reeves provides more than 180 hours of pro bono legal help to veterans annually and does regular drives for National Guard troops and their families. He’s also helped to start computer education and dental programs in Guatemala through donated computers and dental hygiene supplies.

     Reeves amasses supplies by appealing to friends, local businesses and through his military connections—as well as not taking no for an answer. The fact that he’s a white-collar professional doesn’t keep him from getting his hands dirty.

     “There are people who need assistance and there are people who could give that assistance if they only would try,” Reeves said.

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