Red Cross prepares veterans for the workforce through workshops and ongoing support services

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.

Volunteering with the American Red Cross for over 20 years, Suzan Stafford, whom is trained as a psychologist has been hosting workshops with veterans to help them with their transition back to civilian life. Photo by Roy Cox/American Red Cross

“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.

Regional SAF Program Director Jessica Tischler and Koby Langley, Senior Vice President, Red Cross Service to The Armed Forces

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.

Red Cross SAF Volunteer Sally Falasca

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.”

Mike Parks, Rear Adm. (retired), USCG
Regional CEO, Red Cross of Northern Ohio

“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

Help fulfill wish list for hospitalized veterans

Holidays for Heroes with a twist for 2020

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, 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 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 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 at https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/7A8FY4ZJHLSM/guest-view

“We put this wish list together after consulting with the VA’s amazing health care providers,” said Tischler. “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 throughout the holiday season.

Learn more about Red Cross Service to the Armed forces here.

Red Cross program manager recognized as high impact leader

Provides leadership to offer Service to the Armed Forces 

By Jim McIntyre, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Jessica Tischler has been all over Ireland, Western Europe and Southeast Asia, but she never imagined being on a calendar.

Jessica LinkedIn

Jessica Tischler, Regional Program Manager, Service to the Armed Forces

That’s one of the ways in which she is being recognized as a Woman WELDing the Way.

WELD is an acronym for Women for Economic and Leadership Development. The national organization’s Cleveland chapter recognized Jessica, the Regional Program Manager for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) in Northeast Ohio. Jessica is one of 12 Cleveland women honored as a “high impact leader” who supports the leadership development of other women and gives time, talent and resources to the community.

“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.

“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.