By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer
Today is Veterans Day, when we honor those who have served in our military. But tomorrow and every day after this national holiday passes, the American Red Cross will continue to honor and support veterans, military members and their families. For more than 100 years, the Red Cross has been helping active-duty men and women in uniform, their families and veterans deal with the unique challenges of military service.
It’s no secret that military life is stressful. Those of us in civilian life can only imagine the toll it takes to be in combat or challenged with heavy responsibilities, leaving and reuniting with family and home, being uprooted, adjusting to assignment after assignment.
Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces has a whole catalogue of programs to ease those burdens – everything from a reassuring presence on battlefields, deployment stations and military hospitals across the globe to reunification and readjustment workshops here on the home front.
There are even Red Cross programs designed specifically for children who have to deal with the unique social and emotional challenges of military life.
Northern Ohio Region Red Cross volunteer Tom Adams of Cleveland uses his education, training and skills as a clinical social worker to facilitate free, confidential resiliency
workshops on bases around the country. He recently returned from Texas, where he has done sessions at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Tyler. Some of the highlights of his assignments over more than a dozen years include assisting service members at Fort Pickett in Virginia, Orlando, Fla. and Wright-Patterson here in Ohio.
Tom sees genuine gratitude in the people he works with. Explaining why he volunteers he said, “I can give up a weekend without pay to give them a thumbnail sketch of how to handle what life throws at them. I find it really humbling to be able to do this.”
Tom structures his small-group workshops as conversations, encouraging participants to share the challenges they face in a safe space. “Then I suggest options for handling these situations,” Tom said. “I’m not there to ‘teach.’ My goal is to give them tools they can use, when they need them.”
Here in northern Ohio, the Red Cross is also active with National Guard and Reserve units, conducting workshops to help ease the transitions of deployment and reconnection after active duty.
Jessica Tischler, regional director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Northern Ohio Red Cross recruits and trains volunteers with certification in mental health and social work fields for that program.
“I have the privilege of interacting with veterans every day and hearing their stories of service and sacrifice,” she said. “It’s gratifying every Veterans Day to see the American public come together as a community to thank the men and women who served our country.”
The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the public. Our support for the U.S. military dates back to World War I, and we’re proud to maintain our founders’ commitment to the men and women who have served or continue to serve.
For more information or to volunteer or donate to support the Red Cross mission of helping active and retired military members, visit redcross.org or our Spanish site, CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross board member and volunteer