By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re putting one of our reporters in an unusual position: the hot seat.

WCCO’s Reg Chapman received the prestigious Veterans’ Voices award from the Minnesota Humanities Center, which is given to Minnesota veterans who have leveraged their service to help others.

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One of the winners is a 96-year-old female World War II veteran, and another is a Cambodian war hero.

Reg is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.

“I was 17, so I had to get my parents’ permission to join,” Reg said. “They didn’t want me to go but I needed discipline, I needed structure, I needed a foundation, and I know that’s what the military was going to give me, and it did.”

Reg Chapman (credit: CBS)

Reg is a professional when it comes to talking with people — but he’s not as comfortable answering the questions.

“What I do is so minute compared to what other veterans do every day,” he said.

It’s not minute — it’s momentous. That’s why he is a 2017 Veteran’s Voice winner.

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“This is an award recognizing what Reg has done, bringing people together to tell stories that were otherwise not told, to be of service to people who maybe didn’t have their own voice,” said David O’Fallon, president of the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Reg spends some of his days off at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, shaking hands and making contacts.

He uses those contacts to tell stories; using his job at WCCO as a platform for a cause he so deeply believes in.

He has shared stories on post-traumatic stress disorder, on memorials, and on veteran’s health challenges.

“He’s able to empathize because of his own experience, but I think he’s able to do the story from the standpoint, ‘What would veterans want to know?'” said Ralph Heussner, public affairs officer for the Minneapolis VA. “He doesn’t talk much about this publicly, but he prefaces his stories, ‘I’m from the VA, a veteran, I just want people to know that.’ That goes a long way in the veteran community because there are not many journalists who are veterans.”

And journalism is just one area in which Reg continues to serve. He volunteers for youth events, he sings in his church and officiates weddings. And he mentors in his beloved north Minneapolis community.

Reg may not think “that award” is big deal, but the rest of us do.

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Click here to learn more about Reg and the other recipients, and click here to nominate someone for next year’s award.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield