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American Red Cross Opens Office in Djibouti

The American Red Cross is getting ready to open its first Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) office on the African continent, in the northeastern country of Djibouti.

The new office will be located at Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. Naval Expeditionary Base, and will join the worldwide network of SAF stations that provide emergency communications and other services to members of the U.S. military and their families.

General William “Kip” Ward, then Commanding General for U.S. Africa Command, made the request in late 2010 for the Red Cross to open an office in Djibouti. For now, the office will be a one-person operation, and new staff will rotate into the position every 6 months.

Jason Marshall, who previously served as Red Cross station manager at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., will be the first Red Cross staff member to work at the Djibouti office.

Jason Marshall is the first person to head the American Red Cross office in Djibouti, located in northeastern Africa.

Marshall is no stranger to living in far-flung places. He joined the Red Cross in 2003 as a health and safety instructor, and began working with SAF a few years later. Since 2006, the Red Cross has sent him to work at Camp Lejeune in N.C., Iraq, Germany, Kuwait and then Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Marshall’s primary job in Djibouti will be to handle emergency communications for those stationed at Camp Lemonnier. He will also coordinate with the local Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Fleet and Family Readiness groups to make sure troops know about the services the Red Cross provides.

Marshall will be creating a new health and safety program at the base, which will give service members and others the chance to receive first aid and CPR training, as well as training in disaster preparedness and readiness. He will also recruit anyone who is interested—including service members, Department of Defense employees and contractors—to become instructors themselves.

With all these responsibilities, it’s no surprise that Marshall will be working up to 12 hours every day. He expects plenty of challenges since there is a lot involved in setting up a new office overseas, but as he said, “That’s why I took the job—I enjoy the challenge.”