GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – It wasn’t always in Richard Reed Sr.’s plans to go into the service.

“I thought, you know, like, all the things that I was gonna be a top rank athlete,” said Reed.

He attended Central State College to play football.

“I should have studied a little bit more,” Reed explained. “And so when they say sent me home, you know, I kind of lost my scholarship.”

It was Reed’s coach who told him to attend a junior college to get his grades right and he could return.

But life had different plans.

“Well, next thing I knew I got that dreadful letter,” he explained. “So Uncle Sam wants you.”

Reed’s uncles had served in the military.

They encouraged him to enlist and told him that life after the service would present him with more opportunities for schools to attend.

So he did. But he stayed — for nearly 20 years and worked in the Army Medical Department.

“Throughout my entire career, I’ve served. I served in Korea twice, Vietnam for three and a half years, Japan for about eight, nine months, and then I served three years in Germany,” Reed told 7NEWS.

He started as a medic and worked his way to becoming a surgical physician’s assistant, which he described as very traumatic.

“And it still bothers me. To the very day,” Reed said. “I thought that we had excellent training but we were trained under the World War II Korean war model of taking care of a patient. Well, Vietnam was a whole new ballgame with the type of injuries.”

Reed said some of his memories still haunt him.

“With our techniques, we saved a lot,” he added. “But unfortunately, we lost a lot.”

He said he still has nightmares of seeing patients coming into a room.

“So I said, hanging in there, you’re gonna be okay,” Reed said, recounting his memories. “He did not make it off my table.”

It was the first patient he lost.

“With all this training, you know, they psych us up with it, we can do any and everything you know. We have the best equipment, but God has a plan,” Reed said. “What hurt me, was that I couldn’t save him.”

It was a tough reality.

“We thought that you know, we had all this expertise, all this good training, that we can save everybody. And you can save some, you’re gonna lose some,” he added. “And you got to move on. Because if you don’t move on, you’re not gonna be good for anyone, anybody.”

Now Reed keeps busy helping disabled veterans as a coping mechanism. He said he especially helps disabled veterans of color to file their disability claims.

“I just have this giving and caring philosophy, you know, I like to help Veterans. I think with my biblical background, with my medical knowledge, I can really help them win their claims,” Reed told 7NEWS. “I know what the VA is looking for so I know how to write the claims as such. I know how to read the medical records.”

He said it’s not the full solution, but it helps.

Reed said that support from his family, counseling, and hobbies help to keep his mind actively focusing on the present and not the past.

Richard Reed Sr., thank you for your service.

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