SAN JUAN – Doing everything possible to help his fellow Puerto Ricans is the mission of Brigadier Gen. Jose Reyes of the US Army and of the Puerto Rican National Guard, after the disaster left by Hurricane Maria on the island more than three weeks ago.
“It’s important to be here, because these are my people. We want to do more and more for them,” said Reyes, born and raised on the “Isle of Enchantment” and an active member of the US Armed Forces since 1984.
After some 24 years in the Army, some of the time working at the Pentagon in Washington and one year in Iraq, Reyes returned 11 years ago to Puerto Rico to care for his parents, both Spaniards, and to “enjoy the smiles and hugs” of his fellow citizens.
This military veteran is currently assisting three-star Lieut. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan at the head of military operations for the recovery of Puerto Rico, with the almost 14,000 active-duty officers and reservists assigned to different duties.
Their tasks are distributed among supplying food and water to the island’s 78 municipalities, cleaning main and secondary highways, and working with the mayors “so they can be more efficient and see that the work of recovery is equitably distributed, because so much needs to be done everywhere.”
So due to the tough job of reconstructing Puerto Rico from its worst natural disaster, Reyes told EFE that his hours of sleep are cut short and some of his time he uses to note down ideas.
He explained that he divided up his troops and sent the 190th Engineer Battalion to the east, the 130th Engineer Battalion to the west, as well as military police to different areas to provide security.
“My greatest concern as a Puerto Rican is to see that the aid gets to the people who need it,” said Reyes, who, when Lieut. Gen. Buchanan returns to his base in San Antonio, Texas, will take charge of military operations.
“Our reconstruction is designed thinking of the future – of future hurricanes and of our children and grandchildren,” Reyes said, adding that “this is a courageous island and it will rise again stronger than ever.”