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Dispatch from Germany: Red Cross Nurse Volunteers and Careers

The Red Cross offers a method for career progression for nurses who have accompanied their military spouse to Germany.

Three military spouses in Germany are Red Cross nurse volunteers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC). Read Part 1 of their story here.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE Michelle Livingston learned that even the smallest of contributions can help in a big way. She speaks about one day when she came in and another RN gave her a big hug. It was going to be a crazy day, and the other RN was so thankful to have some help.

“Having another nurse to share the workload really allows us the ability to slow down and take the best possible care of our patients, which is really what it is all about,” explained Livingston.

Volunteers have a great sense of pride in their work, layering on passion and a drive to excel in their daily tasks.

“I never expected to feel so appreciated for doing what I love to do,” said Daphne Blask. “I’ve gotten so many compliments from patients and their families for the care that I’ve provided through volunteering. It is so rewarding to have an effect on someone’s health and happiness.”

“I am proud that I can work with the very men and women who I have always had so much admiration for,” said Lauren Purtell. “And I am so proud to wear my Red Cross badge above my ID and to have patients tell me what an incredible thing it is that I am volunteering. I am proud to be part of such an incredible organization and the work that they do for our soldiers and their families.”

HOW IT'S HELPED THEM “Red Cross volunteer opportunities are flexible,” said Blask. “They have allowed me to network and to stay current in my license and certifications for my career field. Not to mention the added benefits of exploring different passions and developing new friendships.” She’s even exploring some employment options recently made available.

Livingston was thrilled to find an opportunity to practice her skills, feel like a valuable member of the community and have enough flexibility to spend time with her kids. One of the units she has been volunteering with offered her a job, ultimately helping her achieve her ultimate goal of obtaining full-time employment.

Purtell’s experience not only boosted her real-world experience, but gave her a heart for service. She admits her volunteer position is sometimes difficult, especially when she works 12 hour shifts and does the exact same work as those who receive a paycheck. While this can be disheartening at times, she concedes it is only human nature to want to feel validated.

Purtell explained, “I have had times where individuals will ask why I would ever do the job I do for free. They can’t imagine themselves ever doing something like that! And sometimes, I wonder how or why I do it. But then I remember that biggest lesson that being a Red Cross volunteer has taught me so far – the love of serving others.”

THE RED CROSS AND SAF IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD People aren’t always aware of opportunities with the Red Cross, especially for professionals with unique skills. They also don’t think of the Red Cross in unique places, like military bases or medical facilities. But the more people learn the more positive and life changing experiences happen.

“When I got involved with the Red Cross I thought to myself, ‘I should have joined the Red Cross years ago,’” said Blask. “The staff and other volunteers offer support for the community and for each other, which is very important for military spouses and families constantly on the move.”

“When people suggested that I start volunteering through the Red Cross at the hospital, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help serve and get the experience I needed to be hired,” said Purtell. “Never in my life would I have guessed how challenging and rewarding being a Red Cross volunteer nurse would be.”

“The Red Cross gave me the opportunity to contribute to the community in a nursing capacity,” said Livingston. “It has been a great way for me to ease back into nursing full time and also to integrate into the community.”

Visit to find out more about volunteer opportunities and how the Red Cross serves the military, and read Part 1 of this story here.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.