A Veterans Day volunteer profile
By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer
Editor’s note: Regional CEO Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message follows this profile of a volunteer and a veteran.
On Veterans Day, we honor, celebrate, and thank all who served in the United States armed forces, and we at the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region are especially proud and thankful for the many veterans who continue to serve our communities as Red Cross volunteers. Dave Riegler, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and volunteer based at the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, is one of these extraordinary individuals.
Dave began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2005. While recovering from a major surgery, he saw the coverage and call for volunteers after Hurricane Katrina and knew he could help.
And his help has been extraordinary. After serving at a call center in Washington, DC following Katrina, Dave has taken on a number of critical roles and responsibilities over the last 14 years. Dave estimates he has deployed about a dozen times to major disasters and regularly assists in our region. His responsibilities include logistics, warehousing, and database operations, and he often uses his skills to locate and procure needed resources.
Dave’s assistance is greatly appreciated. Rachel Telegdy, Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, stated, “Dave is the type of volunteer that will always step in to help in any way. No matter the day or time I know I can call Dave and never worry about the job getting done. His get it done attitude is commendable and his smile is contagious!”
Dave’s military and private sector accomplishments are also exceptional. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 28 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. In addition, Dave had a 40-year career at Goodyear. He began as a machinist and, after earning his engineering degree, moved to corporate engineering. He retired from both the Army and Goodyear in 1997.
Dave is also involved with a number of veterans’ and service organizations, including the Mogadore Lions Club, VFW, a retired military officers’ group, and is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He has a busy Veterans Day and week ahead.
During the interview, Dave’s giving nature was apparent. When asked what he most enjoys about volunteering with the Red Cross, Dave replied meeting people within the organization and helping those in need. He also mentioned that, over the years, he has given blood every time he could. Helping was the major theme in our discussion.
Dave noted how the military and the Red Cross share a commitment to training. When he deploys to a disaster, for instance, the Red Cross ensures everyone has the needed skills.
And he expressed how serving helps instill a sense of personal satisfaction, as well as providing perspective and understanding. For instance, Dave mentioned that there are things in life where we may ask why we’re even bothering. While working with the Red Cross, he sees why.
Finally, Dave said he appreciates being thanked when someone learns he is a veteran. He is sure to thank fellow veterans as well. To Dave and all veterans, on behalf of all of us in the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, thank you.
CEO’s Veterans Day message By Mike Parks, American Red Cross
Greetings to our Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family: Today, Veterans Day, we have the privilege to honor those members of our armed forces who have faithfully served our great nation. I use the word “privilege” intentionally because I recently had the “privilege” to attend the funeral of the last remaining World War II Coast Guard POW in Buffalo, NY when the Coast Guard and the community honored this fallen hero whose remains were finally returned home after 77 years. LT Thomas James Eugene “Jimmy” Crotty was the youngest of five boys and a girl born to Irish immigrants in Buffalo’s old Fifth Ward in 1912. He also was the captain of the Coast Guard Academy’s football team, president of his graduating class, and a gifted young officer who was sent to rescue passengers off the burning liner Morro Castle and later served as a special deputy on the Bering Sea Patrol. He was a hero of Corregidor and a survivor of the Bataan Death March. And on July 19, 1942, Crotty, was dying of diphtheria in the squalid Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp, soon to be given last rites at the edge of a mass grave and lost to his countrymen for 77 years. I was humbled to be in attendance as Coast Guard paid tribute to LT Jimmy Crotty and his family for their sacrifice. It was a sobering reminder of all those men and women who have worn the uniform of this country, serving with distinction and humility, so we can all enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted. The link below is a short clip of the service honoring LT Crotty.
A bit closer to home, our own Cleveland Cavaliers honored service members at a recent home game. I’ve included a clip of the moving halftime ceremony featuring our Greater Cleveland Chapter board member, Nic Barlage of the Cavs, recognizing the commitment and dedication of a service members.
Within less than a week, I was privileged (there’s that word again) to observe two moving and meaningful tributes honoring members who served in our armed forces. I remain moved and humbled by their sacrifices and by those of so many other soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. On this Veterans Day, we all will have the opportunity and privilege, should we choose to seize upon them, to thank and honor those who have served, or are serving our nation, in uniform—please do! To all of you reading this who have served in the armed forces—thank you for your service and for your sacrifice! I often come across people who express their regret in having not served in the military. I always tell them they can still serve now by supporting our military and their families in any number of ways. November marks Military Family Appreciation Month—I would like to take a moment to thank every spouse, parent, sibling, child, and loved one who supports our men and women of the armed forces—as the above video clips confirm—families make great sacrifices as well.
In closing, I hope you share my sincere gratitude in serving in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that traces its roots back to supporting those on the battlefields and continues to serve our armed forces each and every day. Stay well, stay safe, and remember to thank a veteran and their family!! Best regards…Mike
Michael N. Parks
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region