Reflections of a local veteran and volunteer

Veterans Day remarks from Mike Parks follow

By Chiane Martin, American Red Cross Volunteer, Service to the Armed Forces

Veterans Day is a day, when as a country, we can sit back and reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day of remembrance, gratitude and honor.  As a veteran, I reflect on the personal sacrifices all veterans have made and we honor our brothers and sisters that we have lost along the way. Veterans Day is about showing homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The sacrifice of leaving everything they know and love behind to fight for their country. There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Red Cross volunteer and US Army veteran Chiane Martin

The work that I do with the American Red Cross makes me feel that sense of pride again. I am honored to provide my fellow service members and their families with the support they need during some of the most difficult and trying times in their lives. Having someone understand the challenges you’ve faced or are facing can make all the difference and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to do just that.

There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Chiane Martin

The Red Cross is a phenomenal organization and were helpful when I was in the military. I respect the work and dedication that I see put in by the Red Cross and couldn’t be more happy to be a part of it. Thank you to all the men and women past and present, who have made that ultimate sacrifice. Those that understood and upheld the mission of service before self. Those that took that oath and those who understand that the world is more important than themselves.

Happy Veterans Day,

Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (retired)
Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

This Thursday, November 11th, we will remember Veterans Day, which evolved from Armistice Day and was first proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.  The term “armistice” refers to when warring parties agree to stop fighting.  President Wilson’s Armistice Day recognized the end of World War One when hostilities ceased at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month).  The United States Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize Veterans of all U.S. wars. 

In this poster, a Tomb Guard carries out his responsibilities with
unwavering dedication, alone on the quiet plaza at dawn.
There have been Tomb Guards of all races, genders, religion
and creeds, so I wanted to keep the identity of this Tomb Guard ambiguous. 
By placing the Tomb Guard off to the side I hoped to remind the viewer
to look past the sentinel and focus on the tomb itself and the unknown
soldiers who died in service to our nation.
(Artist Matt Tavares)

This past year has been yet another year of remarkable events in our nation’s history—not the least of which was the conclusion of our military’s 20-year engagement in the war in Afghanistan—a war that saw thousands of American Veterans serve our country—many making the ultimate sacrifice or suffering debilitating injuries they will live with for the rest of their lives.  We should not only remember and thank those Veterans who served in that two-decade long war, we should also recognize and thank their families and loved ones. 

I’d like to highlight this last point just a bit more on this Veterans Day.  Veterans past and present put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life; many endure severe hardships while serving our country; they sacrifice significant time with their families and loved ones during long deployments-often in far-away lands and on the high seas; and they frequently uproot themselves and their families to undertake moves of entire households—many times cross-country.  All of these facets of a Veteran’s everyday life, also take a huge toll on their families and loved ones as they support their Veterans.  I speak from personal experience, and feel confident I speak for other Veterans, when I state I would not have been successful without the love, support, and prayers of my family—they were, and always will be, a true blessing.  Let us all make a special point this year to also remember to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the families and loved ones of our Veterans.

In closing—I challenge all of us to not just remember our Veterans and their families on November 11th, but remember and thank them whenever the opportunity presents itself.  None of our Veterans only protected our freedoms one day a year—I hope we can express our gratitude on more than one day a year as well.  To all those Veterans that are reading this—“Thank you for your service!”  Please also thank your families and loved ones for their support of you and their sacrifice as well!  Let us never forget. 

Best regards…Mike

P.S. Please also take a moment to view our Virtual Resiliency Workshops website to learn how to access these resources, which are open to anyone with a military veteran affiliation (including partners, donors, service members, spouses, friends and staff members, those 18 years and up). 

Honoring and aiding those who serve: Armed Forces Day and Resiliency Workshops 

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Saturday, May 15, is Armed Forces Day, in which we celebrate current service members and veterans of the US military. The American Red Cross is proud to help honor all those who serve, and of its role in supporting service members and their families, including two upcoming Resiliency Workshops.  

The first Armed Forces Day was in 1950, following the unification of the US military under the Department of Defense. On this day, we honor the sacrifice and commitment of those who serve. In 1963, President Kennedy remarked that, “Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace–many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families.” Continuing, he said, “They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth—that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice.”  

Such dedication and sacrifice deserve support, and the Red Cross is proud to play an important role. Each year, the Red Cross supports more than 513,000 service members, veterans, and their families. We also provide services on all military installations in the US and on 35 overseas installations.  

The Resiliency Workshop Program is one of many Services to the Armed Forces offered by the Red Cross. All courses are free and include skills-building activities, stress-management techniques, and small-group discussion. They are facilitated by licensed behavioral health professionals who receive training on military life and culture. Topics include Effective Communication, Stress Solutions, Connecting with Kids, and Caregivers of Wounded, Ill and Injured Service Members and Veterans. 

“With sacrifice comes resilience. Those words are often used to describe our service members, veterans and their families,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Service to the Armed Forces Program Director.  “Our Red Cross workshops support individuals in growing this resilience throughout their lifetime.”

Two workshops are taking place soon in Hancock County, Ohio.   

Effective Communication workshops are taking place on Monday, May 17, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.  This program helps build effective communication skills with particular emphasis on transition points and the stress they can bring. It helps participants learn ways to communicate verbally and nonverbally as well as how to interpret and respond in positive ways to achieve a healthy outcome. 

Stress Solutions workshops are offered on Monday, June 21, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.  This program assists in understanding the difference between health and unhealthy stress levels. Participants learn to recognize and manage stressors in their lives, particularly those related to transition and change. They also learn the physical and mental health consequences of allowing stress to build as well as some effective ways to address it. 

The workshops are offered both virtually and in person.  RSVP by email to Nichole Coleman at NRColeman@co.hancock.oh.us or visit the Hancock County Veterans Service Office website at www.hancockveterans.com

More information on Red Cross programs and initiatives for the Armed Forces is available here. If you are interested in additional workshops or other Deployment Services, please see this page. If you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross, please visit here. 

Mental health professionals: please help the Red Cross assist service members, veterans, and their families

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

October 7, 2020- As part of their extraordinary service and commitment, members of the US armed services, veterans and their families face an array of challenges, some of which can impact mental health. In addition, 2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for all of us. To help with vital mental health services, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is seeking additional volunteers to serve as mental health facilitators as part of its Service to Armed Forces.

The Red Cross, which has served the military for over 135 years, provides services on all military installations in the US as well as 36 overseas installations. An important component of Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces is providing mental health and emotional support. Two such services are reconnection and mind-body workshops.

Reconnection Workshops focus on assisting service members, veterans and their families with the transitions that come with military service. Topics include building strong and effective communications skills, managing stress, discussing and finding methods to cope with trauma, emotional grit, connecting with children and defusing anger. There are also workshops which help children effectively cope and communicate. Another important workshop helps non-professional caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans.

With Mind-Body Workshops, the Red Cross teaches easy-to-use skills that connect the body with the mind to help participants cope with stress and trauma. Topics in the introductory course include breathing, mindfulness techniques, stretching and movement, body awareness and functioning, and guided imagery. A module to use mind-body skills includes drawing, journaling, meditation and mindfulness, body awareness through body scan, progressive muscle relaxation and mirroring, and self-directed imagery.

These workshops are free, confidential and offered in small groups.

Due to the pandemic, mental health facilitator roles are currently virtual but will return to being in-person once it passes.

If you are a mental health professional with a current and unencumbered license and hold a master’s level or above mental health degree, please consider volunteering to help the Red Cross provide these crucial services. Volunteering with the Red Cross provides a multitude of professional and personal benefits. These include training; professional development opportunities; remaining clinically active; the ability to advocate, provide feedback, and promote information in your area; and, most importantly, assisting those in need. For more information on volunteering please visit this page or call one of the numbers listed here.

More information about Red Cross Service to Armed Forces is available here.