During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Red Cross reminds public of available mental health resources

By: Chris Chmura, Red Cross volunteer

As with mental health, our society has been improving with the taboo subject of suicide, but we still have a long way to go to help more people. The American Red Cross wants to remind everyone that there are resources available to assist those struggling with mental health concerns.

A sweeping new examination of suicide in Ohio in the past decade finds that 37 of the 88 counties now surpass the national rate, and the coronavirus pandemic likely is triggering a “staggering” increase in such deaths. Our Ohio neighbors of all ages from children to aging veterans are affected by suicide.

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The Red Cross is committed to assisting the physical needs of those affected by disaster but we also understand these events can take an emotional toll.  The Red Cross has licensed Disaster Mental Health professionals who volunteer to assist people after disasters and connect them with resources to help in their long-term recovery. We currently have an urgent need for mental health disaster volunteers. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with a current and unencumbered license, please consider volunteering. Learn more and sign up today.

Aiding our men and women in uniform has always been integral to the Red Cross mission. One way we assist with the emotional issues military members face is through Reconnection Workshops. This free, confidential Red Cross program offers effective ways to work through challenges, improve wellbeing and build skills through small-group discussion and hands-on activities. Workshops help improve connections at home, at work and within communities. Members of the military, veterans and their families can also download the Hero Care App which can connect you to important resources that can help you through both emergency and nonemergency situations.

For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7, regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care. The VA also has local Vet Centers in your community to help discuss how you feel with other veterans in these community-based counseling centers — some 70% of Vet Center staff are veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

If you are in crisis, get immediate help. Call 911. For additional help and resources, below are a variety of organizations trained to help.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It’s important to learn how you and your loved ones can cope with stress. The information below has been adapted from resources published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, television and computer screens for a while.
  • Take care of your body.
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco and substance use.
    • Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Tiffany Circle members in Northern Ohio help support female military serving in Africa

By: Donna Gracon, American Red Cross Philanthropy Officer

The Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross recently gathered on Zoom to hear regional leaders, including CEO Mike Parks and Tiffany Circle member Patty Flowers, describe their deployment experiences as they helped communities by responding during the unprecedented wildfire and hurricane season in 2020.

During the virtual session, the region launched its Holiday Mission Project to help female members of the U.S. military serving in Djibouti, a country in East Africa. Learning of the difficulties these military heroes face in securing personal care and hygiene products due to inaccessibility caused by COVID-19, Tiffany Circle members stepped up by purchasing items from a locally created Amazon Wish List.

Donna Gracon, Red Cross Philanthropy Officer, stands among the packages of items purchased for female members of the military serving in East Africa.

“How special it is to be a part of a group of women who so willingly volunteer their resources and join together to support others during the holidays and also during all seasons,” said Northern Ohio Tiffany Circle Chair Laurie Laidlaw Deacon.

In attendance was Julia Bianchi, who immediately engaged help from Tiffany Circle sisters in South Florida and the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region of the Red Cross who also contributed to the effort. In total, 450 items were shipped to the Red Cross office at Camp Lemmonier, the primary base of operations for the U.S. Africa Command in the Horn of Africa.

“It sometimes becomes apparent that women in the military feel overlooked or forgotten,” said Kelsey Smith, senior regional program specialist/site lead for the American Red Cross at Camp Lemonnier. “Generous donations that specifically target the needs of women are uniquely impactful, as they remind our female service members that their sacrifices and dedication do not go unnoticed. Females that serve deserve to be heard, supported and celebrated equally. By ensuring their health and wellness are maintained, we create a stronger and more resilient military community as a whole.”

Lt. Andrea Wright, Capt. Ellen Bramblee and Lt. Col. Abigail Lee at the Red Cross office at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, East Africa.

To learn more about the Tiffany Circle and how the philanthropic power of its women leaders advance the mission of the Red Cross, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Former active duty social worker helps military families combat stress

A volunteer profile will post here each day during National Volunteer Week

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

April 9, 2019- Military life can be stressful for those in the service as well as for their families. Former Air Force social worker Sally Falasca strives to help military personnel and their loved ones by teaching them stress-relieving strategies.

Sally is a Service to the Armed Forces volunteer with the American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter. She has been volunteering as a mind-body workshop facilitator for the past year. She is one of eight mental health volunteers who are trained to deliver Red Cross resilience programs, according to Jessica Tischler, Regional Service to the Armed Forces Manager.

Sally Falasca

“Having volunteers like Sally allows us to meet the requests we receive from local units to support their service members and their families,” Jessica said.

A licensed independent social worker who lives in Youngstown, Sally currently works in a private practice setting. However, for more than nine years, Sally served in the United States Air Force as an active duty social worker.

“There were many times during my active duty career that I reached out to the Red Cross to assist service members and they were always there for our armed services personnel,” she explained. “Once I left active duty, I knew I had to continue to serve the armed forces population any way I could. The Red Cross is providing me with amazing opportunities to do just that!”

Through the Red Cross’ Mind-Body Workshops, Sally teaches service members, veterans and their families easy-to-use skills to manage the stresses of military life, helping them cope with stress and trauma. Workshops are free and offered in small groups.

“Sally has a unique combination of personal and professional experience working with the military, veterans and families,” said Jessica. “It is heartwarming to hear service members say how valuable they find Red Cross resilience programming, and that is especially true when Sally facilitates.”

Sally encourages others to volunteer their time and talents with the Red Cross.

“The Red Cross gives so much to communities,” she said. “Even if you only have a little bit of time to donate, the Red Cross can benefit from your time. There are so many different things you can do . . . they truly have a volunteer opportunity for any interest.”

To learn more about Red Cross Mind-Body Workshops or to register for one of the group workshops, visit our website at https://www.redcross.org.

Hero Care App Launched

For Active Military Members, Veterans and Their Families

The American Red Cross has unveiled the new Hero Care mobile application. This free app is designed to help members of the military, veterans and their families identify and access both emergency and non-emergency Red Cross services from anywhere in the world.

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“When an emergency happens, accurate information, easy access to services and time are of the essence, especially for military families” said Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to the Armed Forces in the Northeast Ohio Region. “That’s why the Red Cross has designed the new Hero Care App – whether you’re the parent of a child joining the military, a military member, a military spouse or  veteran, the Hero Care App will connect you vital services and guide you to valuable resources that will help alleviate stress during emergencies and provide important information right at your fingertips.”

Some the important features of the app include:

  • Request Red Cross emergency services including an emergency message or assistance with emergency travel or emergency financial aid.
  • Securely and easily access information about their service member in the case of an emergency, including updated information as they move or change duty assignments.
  • Access non-emergency Red Cross behavioral health assistance including financial assistance and free local workshops for military kids and spouses.
  • Find local resources and information provided by trusted community partners like Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Blue Star Families, Military Child Education Coalition, United Way, Goodwill, Easter Seals, and others.
  • Locate information on key government resources such as MilitaryOneSource, VA Benefits and Services, Department of Labor VETS, the VA Caregiver Support Program, and SAMSHA Community Health Support Services.

Content in the Hero Care App is available in both English and Spanish, and the call center is staffed 24/7 with multi-lingual translation services.

The Hero Care App is available to download for free in app stores, by texting ‘GETHEROCARE’ to 90999 or by clicking this link from a mobile device:  http://3cu.be/sharehc .

Volunteers help the Red Cross provide Service to the Armed Forces.  If you are interested in giving back to our nation’s heroes by volunteering with Red Cross SAF, click here, or call 216-431-3328.

Regional CEO’s Memorial Day Message

By Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region
RADM  USCG (Ret.)

Members of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Family:  Although I know many of you have been busy this weekend continuing the lifesaving work of our American Red Cross, I wanted to be sure to encourage each of us to take time to reflect and remember why we even recognize the holiday known as Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is mostly known as the party-packed kickoff weekend to summer, and it includes a day off from work.  While, yes, that makes it an amazing annual celebration, the history of Memorial Day is extremely important to keep in mind.  It is about honoring all the brave individuals who have lost their lives while serving in the military.  This holiday is centuries old, and in the midst of hitting the open road with friends and backyard barbeques, we should at least take a moment to acknowledge all the service members who have died fighting for our freedom.  After all, that’s why Memorial Day exists in the first place—and our freedom isn’t “free.”

To all of you, thank you for your tremendous service to the American Red Cross and what you do every day to help our communities.   If you’d like to learn more about Memorial Day and the American Red Cross—I’ve included some information below.  Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Best regards…Mike

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Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery

MEMORIAL DAY AND THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Memorial Day (then known as Decoration Day) originally honored those who died in the Civil War.  Because the Civil War occurred on American soil, it had the highest number of American casualties.  About 620,000 American soldiers died in the Civil War, whereas 700,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts and wars combined.  So following the Civil War, a tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves on a day in spring was born.  It’s fitting that the origins of the American Red Cross were found during that same deadly conflict.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Clara Barton was just another clerk at the Patent Office in Washington, D.C.  Barton’s great crusade, which helped define modern humanitarianism, began when she saw soldiers crowding into the city without food or shelter prepared for them.  More importantly, there was not enough medical care for wounded soldiers returning from the front.

She began distributing food and supplies to sick and wounded soldiers in the area but soon realized there was an even greater need for her services closer to the battlefield.  After receiving permission to travel to the front lines, she started delivering medical supplies and tending to wounded soldiers right on the fields of battle, often risking her life to do so.  Eventually, army commanders recognized the good work she was doing and gave her responsibility for all the Union’s hospitals along the James River.

After the war, Barton continued her humanitarian work by helping relatives find the remains of 22,000 soldiers who’d been reported missing.  She also helped identify — and bury — 13,000 casualties of the Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia.

After four years of this work, Barton took a break and visited Europe.  But any chance for a restful vacation ended when she learned of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which had been founded in Geneva in 1864.  She was drawn to its mission of providing international aid to protect the sick and wounded on all sides in war.

Barton stayed to help civilians caught up in the Franco-Prussian War, and when she returned to the States, she urged the U.S. government to sign the Geneva Treaty that created the ICRC.  U.S. approval to join the international organization came in 1881, and the American Red Cross was incorporated on May 21 of that year.

Now, 135 years later, the American Red Cross is still going strong, providing shelter, food, and healthcare services at roughly 70,000 disasters every year, from single-home fires to earthquakes that affect millions.  Its blood program collects, tests, and types over 40 percent of the country’s blood supply.  It delivers needed services to 150,000 military families each year, including training and support for wounded veterans. The Red Cross also provides training in first aid, CPR, and lifeguarding.  As part of an international organization, it joins the Red Cross in 187 countries to help over 100 million people worldwide every year.

 

 

The Red Cross Remembers Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day weekend is a busy one for volunteers of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF,) as we honor those who lost their lives defending our freedom.

Knowing in advance that military families will be able to reach their loved ones, and have access to financial and other types of assistance provides piece of mind to families who are separated. SAF volunteers help the Red Cross provide follow-up to emergency communications for military members and their families; outreach through SAF programs like “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” or resiliency training; or work with nearby Veterans Affairs medical facilities through the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS) program.

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The Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland

The Red Cross K9 Action Team will take part in the day-long Operation: Flags of Freedom event at Perry High School in Massillon on Saturday, May 28. The Volunteer K9 Action Team provides “comfort therapy” to disaster victims and to members of the military and their families.

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The K9 Action Team

Also on Saturday, Red Cross SAF Volunteers will be providing cups of water to approximately 1,700 Boy Scouts as they place flags throughout the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.  They will be preparing the cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony to take place at noon on Sunday, May 29. Red Cross volunteers will distribute cups of water to an anticipated crowd of 4,000 visitors.

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Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Veterans Day Program 2015

Volunteers will also honor our nation’s fallen heroes by taking part in the North Canton Memorial Day parade, beginning at 9:00 AM on Monday, May 30.

Memorial Day weekend is considered by many as the unofficial start of the summer season.  And we memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice, to afford us the freedom to fire-up our grills and fly our flags as we enjoy our families in the United States of America.

Happy Memorial Day.

 

Always on Time in Your Time of Need

By: Darrell Rush, Service to the Armed Forces Intern

Darryl

Hello my name is Darrell, I am a Social Worker intern at the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Regional Office in Cleveland.  I want to share my story of how the Red Cross affects each of us, at one point or another.

As part of my internship, I am working on a program that has become better over the years because of advances in Informational Technology. We are able to connect  people and resources with a simple key stroke. This program helps Red Cross volunteers provide information to family members of deployed military personnel. The information provided helps the family with resources that gives light on a dark situation. I know that when a person is deployed and away from family members there are plenty of anxieties to spread around.

I served in the Army in the late 1970’s, after the return of our troops from Vietnam. I wanted to fight for our country, but was too young. I enlisted as soon as I was eligible. When I did my family was a wreck.. My father was killed while I was in training, and I did not find out until after he was buried.They did not find out what to do to contact the Red Cross until after I came home on leave.

That was a problem back then that has been remedied today.

In February,  I was doing my regular duties-  making calls to our Service Members families – when a young lady answered and found out that I was from the Red Cross. She was very distraught and bewildered. She screamed to her mother that help was there and that God was good.  “The Red Cross is on the phone.”When the mother got on the call she immediately informed me that her mother just passed away the prior evening, and they did not know what to do in order to contact her son in the military. I explained the reason for my call and gave her all the information needed to start the process.  She kept on thanking God for this call and the Red Cross. By the end of our conversation she was at ease and had a plan. Then she said to me,” The Red Cross is always on time in your time of need.”

“Repetition is the only way to achieve perfection here on earth”. Since I was a young lad, I have always tried to place myself in the right position to help others. You see, by continuing to do the same thing over and over again it becomes like breathing air. That simple! This is the main reason for the Red Cross being the perfect place to start when looking for advice and information in your time of need; whether it be preparing for a disaster, contacting a loved one in the Armed Forces during an emergency, or even learning about administering first aid.

The Red Cross strives to share information that will help us prepare for an emergency.  They give advice on resiliency, and ways to prepare your household with hope for a better day. The Red Cross supplies resources that will help people to overcome personal tragedy and ensure a faster recovery.

To learn more about how the Red Cross helps our service members and their families visit our Service to the Armed Forces site.

Why I Volunteer for the American Red Cross

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By Stephanie M. Goggans
CPT, SC
U.S. Army Cleveland Metro Recruiting Company

I volunteer with the Red Cross because service and volunteerism makes the world a better place.  If each one of us can have an impact on the next person then the entire world will be better.

Service with the American Red Cross was important for me as a military service member because it allows me to continue my volunteering as I travel worldwide. The American Red Cross has many diverse programs to volunteer in and so many different locations that they make it pretty simple to spend time giving back.

Helping with the disaster preparedness team in Northeast Ohio has been very educational for me. Being from Northeast Ohio, volunteering with the American Red Cross also helps me stay connected to what is going on in my area.  Although I wasn’t aware of it at first,
volunteering in the community through the American Red Cross has added to my sense of purpose and helped me become the person I am today.

Volunteering can be challenging, but it is ultimately very rewarding.

Thank you,

Stephanie

CPT GoggansStephanie

Click here to see a short video featuring Captain Stephanie Goggins, volunteering to sort mail destined for U. S. Service Men and Women during the holidays.

 

Ani Stone, SAF Volunteer

edit_12-19-15 256th Combat Support Hospital Family Day- Ani StoneMy name is Ani Stone and I am a Service to Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer. I have been volunteering for the American Red Cross since September 2014.

I moved to the United States in 2008 to pursue a graduate degree in Religious Studies and during my studies I volunteered for a Holocaust education program for middle and high school students. Upon graduation, I volunteered as a Romanian translator for elderly Romanians seeking medical or social assistance from government. When I moved to Stark County nearly four years ago, I continued my translator work, but the distance made work more difficult. I was looking for a new opportunity to enrich my life through volunteering, but was not sure which opportunity was the best. I decided to look at the American Red Cross, as the organization had a great reputation in Europe as well and I was more familiar with it than the other organizations in the area.

I had my first interview via phone and then a face-to-face follow up, and when I was told that there was an opening to volunteer for the Service to Armed Forces division, I made my decision. I was looking for a chance to make a difference and help through my volunteering work, and I knew my efforts would be meaningful as a SAF volunteer.

There is no higher honor than serving your country and protecting the public, including those who antagonize you. It’s an honor to serve those who work in this function.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Our Story: 2015 in Review

A word of thanks to everyone who visited us here in 2015, to read about the good work being done by volunteers and staff of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region.

Red Cross and OANG Volunteers in Lorain

Operation Save-A-Life, Lorain, Ohio, October 2015

 

The concert hall at Severance holds 1,844 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2015. If it were a Cleveland Orchestra concert at Severance Hall, it would take more than 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it!

Click here to see the complete report.