Kentucky Wounded Heroes
Middletown Organization Assists Wounded Soldiers & Civil Service Men and Women
Chuck Reed has a long history of serving his country and state. From his time in the Marine Corps, where he served much of his time in the Middle East, to his 36 years with the Army National Guard as well as his 32 years with the State Police. If ever a person knew their calling, it’s Reed.
So it makes complete sense that he would go on to found Kentucky Wounded Heroes (KWH), a non-profit focused on helping wounded soldiers and civil service men and women. After hearing his tale, one could easily call it his destiny.
“Back in 2005, we had a lot of units in Kentucky that were deployed,” Reed says. “And we had a lot of National Guardsmen coming home in just really bad shape. These kids were shot, cut, blown up, shrapnel. We’d see a lot of that. Especially with the 149th Infantry Division. These men and women started coming home and myself and some others decided that ‘hey, someone needs to do something here to try and help these guys out.’ After they get out of the hospitals and they’re on medical leave and so forth.
Indeed, that’s exactly what Reed did. During his long years of service, both in the armed forces and as a State Trooper, Reed made friends and contacts from a bevy of places, from Alaska to Florida to the Great Lakes. They were contacts he began to put to good use for Kentucky Wounded Heroes, planning trips for the wounded men and women all over the country.
“What we started doing was gathering up small groups of soldiers and taking them fishing, bird-hunting, fishing at Lake Cumberland,” he says. “At the time it was all military. We worked with Ft. Knox and Fort Campbell and their Warrior Transition Unit. We would try to take as many folks as we could afford. We have annual trips to Alaska and we take another big group to Florida on gator hunts and to fish. We go to Lake Erie every year, too. We have a huge group there every year. This is the ninth year for that with about 120 of Wounded heroes there.
But not everything has been smooth waters for the non-profit organization. Initially, KWH was simply an unofficial project but one that had the support and financial backing of the Army and National Guard. Unexpectedly, only a few years after Reed started KWH they lost their financial support.
“We had a lot of help in the beginning but eventually the protective umbrella that was offered by the Army and National Guard, with vehicles and flights so that we could take our wounded heroes on trips, that kind of dried up,” Reed says. “There was a lot of money being put into other directions and not with our wounded.”
However, as the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down. And thus, Reed rose to the new challenge of keeping the doors of the Kentucky Wounded Heroes organization open sans financial government assistance. His response was turning it into a non-profit.
“We’ve made so many contacts over the years,” he says. “I had a lot of contacts from my years in the State Police, and I made friends that were stationed in Alaska, in the Great Lakes and in Florida. There’s just a lot of good people in Kentucky, I’ll tell you that. A lot that just want to give back. And that’s all we do here. We just give back. Our veterans, they signed a blank check to Uncle Sam. And that’s all the way up to and including giving their lives for this country.”
For its initial set of years, Kentucky Wounded Heroes only dealt with wounded soldiers. Then, around 2012, Reed, with his own past in mind, knew that there were plenty more unsung heroes out there who could use a little goodwill. So, the Kentucky Wounded heroes “enlarged the circle,” opening its arms to all Kentucky civil servants injured in the line of duty. Reed, rightly so, defines these men and women as “proven patriots.”
“I guess because of my background and some of the guys I was in the Army National Guard with were police officers as well, we just saw the need here at home,” he says. “What’s unique about that is that probably nine out of 10 police officers, firefighters and EMTs are military veterans as well. If you look at it, it’s kind of shocking really.”
One thing Reed recognizes is that what he’s doing with the Kentucky Wounded Heroes is not a one-man-army kind of job. It requires a network of people who want nothing more than to help people who could use the help. He’s made connections with people and organizations from across the state and even some in adjoining states, all donating time and money, and sometimes both, for this worthy endeavor.
“All the credit goes to our volunteers really,” Reed admits. “Our staff is made up of State Troopers, police officers, firefighters, EMTs and civilians that just want to give back. Lots of good people. There are no paid employees. That’s something that distinguishes us from any other group in the nation. There’s no salaries. That enables us to give back everything that comes in to eating, housing and fuel for vehicles. We’re all just volunteers.”
For more information, visit Kentucky Wounded Heroes online at kentuckywoundedheroes.net or give them a call at 502-235-4262.