Toothpaste, body wash and skin cream are not the most likely items for a typical holiday gift wish list. But for those heroes who are being cared for in the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System, the Ohio Veterans Home and the Toledo VA Outpatient Clinic, they are essentials. And generous supporters of Northern Ohio’s hospitalized veterans can purchase these items and others on the Northern Ohio Heroes Wish List, created by the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region.
“People are generous and always willing to help our nation’s veterans, so we’re working with our partners at the VA and the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky to make sure their patients have what they need – and want – this holiday season,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Service to the Armed Forces Program Director. “In years past, people sent holiday cards to veterans and service men and women around the world, but once again this year, we are asking people to help our veterans in a different way.”
Adult coloring books and crayons are other items on the Northern Ohio Heroes Wish List, which can be accessed on Amazon here.
“We put this wish list together after consulting with the VA’s amazing health care providers,” said Jessica. “We hope that these items will help bring some comfort to men and women who can’t be home for the holidays by letting them know Americans care about them and appreciate the sacrifices they made.”
Items purchased from the Northern Ohio Heroes Wish List will be delivered to Red Cross regional headquarters in Cleveland, and will be dropped off at facilities throughout the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare system, the Ohio Veterans Home, and the Toledo VA Outpatient Clinic throughout the holiday season.
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
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.
“WELD’s Cleveland Chapter is thrilled to announce the names of the diverse group of talented leaders who will be featured as its 2019 calendar honorees,” said WELD President and CEO Barb Smoot. “In countless ways, these women are indeed WELDing the Way® by making an impact in their communities. They inspire others by living WELD’s mission to develop and advance women’s leadership to strengthen the economic prosperity of the communities we serve.”
As the SAF Program Manager, Jessica coordinates the delivery of Red Cross services, including emergency communications, pre-deployment preparedness and resiliency workshops for members of the military, veterans and their families. Much of the work is done with the help of volunteers.
Jessica Tischler and Koby Langley, Senior Vice President, SAF and International Services
Jessica Tischler, Jim Strause, Division SAF Manager, and Sue Fuehrer, Director, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System
Jessica Tischler, center, with Red Cross team members
At the Youngstown Air Reserve Station
“If you have the opportunity to work with young women or volunteers, you want them to be successful, to far exceed anything you’ve ever done,” Jessica said.
“The (WELD) recognition is important, because it gives me a way to promote our mission and to recognize the work done by our volunteers,” she said. “It also allows me to reflect on all the ways the Red Cross assists service men and women, veterans and their families,” she said.
Anyone interested in helping the Red Cross provide services to military men and women, veterans and their families can visit redcross.org/neo to apply.
Jessica and the other WELD honorees were recognized during a ceremony at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association on Nov. 8, 2018. Each honoree will be featured in the 2019 Women WELDing the Way calendar.