By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer
Support for the men and women of the armed forces has been central to the American Red Cross since the organization was founded 140 years ago.
One of our key services is helping military personnel as they leave active duty and look toward putting their skills to work in the civilian world.
“All the way back to our founder, Clara Barton, the Red Cross has been helping military veterans ease back into civilian life,” said Jessica Tischler, Service to the Armed Forces regional program manager for northern Ohio.
“We do this through free in-person workshops as well as small-group virtual modules. These sessions help veterans and their families build skills to successfully pivot into the non-military work world,” she explained.
In-person Reconnection and Mind-Body workshops are confidential, led by licensed mental health professionals with additional Red Cross training.
Virtual workshops, also led by professionals, include topics such as:
- Creating calmness in stressful times
- Psychological first aid and resilience
- Effective communication
- Stress solutions
- Connecting with kids
U.S. Air Force veteran Sally Falasca, a licensed independent social worker in the Youngstown area, is a volunteer workshop leader.
“When I was on active duty, I relied on the Red Cross to assist me in helping service members from all branches,” she said. “I had seen them do so much good.” So Sally was glad to share her skills as a civilian.
She began volunteering in 2018, doing reconnection workshops for adults, children and teens. Since COVID shut down most in-person sessions, she’s been impressed by how much the on-line sessions help veterans and their families strengthen their “emotional grit” and find that all-important work-life balance.
“The Red Cross is an ideal volunteer site for veterans because it offers the opportunity to serve others — just as service men and women do in uniform — in an organized and supportive environment,” Jessica said. “Think of being a disaster responder, locally or nationally, or a blood services volunteer or a first aid or water safety instructor, for example.
“There are lots of overlaps between military service and humanitarian service.”
“I can speak from personal experience when I say that the American Red Cross dovetails with uniformed military service in terms of our dedication to mission and our high regard for leadership,” said Rear Admiral Mike Parks, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.), who now serves as Northern Ohio Regional Executive for the Red Cross.
The Red Cross has an online military occupation specialty (MOS) “translator” that makes it easy for veterans to find full-time opportunities that match their skills. The site currently lists more than two dozen paid positions right here in Ohio and more than 750 across the country: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/careers/military-occupational-specialty-translator.html
If you’re retired from the U.S. armed services, or know someone who is, and would like to know more about the many Red Cross services to the armed forces, contact your local Red Cross chapter.
If you’d like to financially support this important work and all of the other humanitarian work of the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/donate.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer