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). 

Mike’s Veterans Day message for 2020

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

Greetings Northern Ohio Red Cross Family:  2020 has been a year filled with enormous challenges for our country and the American Red Cross including a devastating global pandemic, significant economic downturn, civil unrest brought about by social injustice, an unprecedented hurricane season, deadly Western wildfires, and a contentious election season.  All of these things, as well as countless others, have impacted our workforce, families, clients, donors and partners, bringing some degree of concern, anxiety and uncertainty.  One thing that has remained constant throughout this tumultuous year, has been the American Red Cross—the Red Cross you serve—has continued to meet mission each and every day!!  Thank you!!

Mike Parks

This week, despite all of the challenges, we can also gain comfort and certainty, as well as have confidence, in those men and women who have served, and are serving, in our Armed Forces to keep us safe and ensure we never lose the freedoms that have been won at such a high price.   As we all know, the American Red Cross has its roots in serving those who served in our military—our Veterans.  In honor of Veterans Day 2020, which we commemorate on Wednesday the 11th of November, I’ve included a link to a video clip that I encourage you to watch.  The clip shows the Texas Tenors singing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” 

I think its lyrics and the images are far more inspiring than anything I could offer in this message.  I know I felt my spirits lifted as I listened and watched it—I hope yours are as well.  In closing, please take time to reach out to a Veteran, past or present, and thank them for their service to our country—please show them by your actions that they served, or are serving, a grateful nation.  Please stay safe and well. 

Best regards…Mike

Red Cross to serve up breakfast and resources to service members and their families during drive-up Veterans Day event

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross communications volunteer

December 17, 2019. Louisville, Kentucky. Hero Care Call Center. Photo by Bill Wine/American Red Cross

As Veterans Day draws near, one of the American Red Cross’ major lines of service, Service to the Armed Forces, draws closer to our hearts. Year after the year, the Red Cross has sought to support current and retired members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families in any way possible.

Since the tragic event of 9/11 that shook our country, the Red Cross has served well over 1 million military families through services including (but not limited to):

  • providing home comforts and critical services on military bases around the world
  • supporting families while their loved ones are deployed or are experiencing an emergency
  • offering continued support after their time with the armed forces ends

Despite the challenges that this year has presented, including preventing the Red Cross from hosting its usual events honoring those who have selflessly served our country, military members and their families will still receive Red Cross support. 

Every year, of Toledo, Ohio, and the Red Cross host a Veterans Day breakfast that typically draws over 500 members of the armed forces and their families and friends. All currently serving and retired members of the armed forces and their families are invited to participate in a huge breakfast as well as have the opportunity to meet other families and visit vendor booths to access resources and information. The goal of this breakfast has always been to foster community and provide information for crucial services available to veterans such as dental services, mental health access, housing options, legal services, educational opportunities and more. 

Veterans Day Breakfast, Toledo, Ohio 2019

Peggy Holewinski, Regional Gift Officer for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross, shared some insights as to what this breakfast will look like this year. This Veterans Day, Toledo officials and Red Cross staff will host a drive-up event for veterans and their families. Guests will arrive by vehicle and receive one of the over 500 bags of prepared breakfasts—thanks in part to local organizations that have donated food. Not only will veterans and their families receive a fresh, delicious breakfast, but those 500 bags will also contain resources and information attendees would normally receive at the in-person event. Although this year’s event will be quite different, Peggy expects a big turnout. 

“I think it’s really important to make sure veterans know how much we appreciate them and how much they have done for this country,” said Peggy. “Without them, we wouldn’t be free, and it’s so important for people to understand that.”

Well said, Peggy. The Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross plans to make sure our veterans feel supported and appreciated just as much this year as in previous years.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer