The transition back to normalcy from military life can be hard for some, and the mental health battle can take a toll on our veterans.
Our latest Everyday Hero is a veteran whose mission is to make life easier for other vets.
Retired U.S. Army Col. D.J. Reyes is a “military brat." His father was an Army officer who served for 26 years.
His own career spanned some 33 years.
“I have great memories,” Reyes said. “I have multiple deployments. Iran, Afghanistan, North Africa, Bosnia, Kosovo and I’ve met some great people on the way. I would not trade it for the world.”
He is now a national advocate for veterans. His efforts include his support for the Veterans Treatment Court, a specialized court that serves military members or veterans who are in or about to enter the criminal justice system who suffer from service-related mental illnesses and other conditions.
Working hand-in-hand with the Veterans Court is an organization he helped establish, Mentors for Hillsborough County Veterans.
“The whole purpose of this is to team up a veteran with a veteran defendant in court, like a battle buddy, to help then navigate through the system.”
Reyes mentioned about five main issues facing many vets.
“Low coast attainable housing, which is a national problem, sustainable employment, education to include not just degree completion but certification and licensure, affordable transportation and food insecurity,” he said.
He said that without these and especially attainable housing, a vet’s challenges can be massive.
Reyes’ assignments have included commanding joint inter-agency and multi-national commands. His remarkably long list of honors includes his selection into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.
And he was named a Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Traveling the country as a “point man” for veterans, including trips to the White House and Capitol Hill, Col. Reyes remains optimistic, quoting an old Army saying:
“You improve your foxhole every day.”