In the wake of tragedy, every day heroes rise to the challenges whether it is traveling to a disaster to help, answering an emergency call from a military family member, or in the case of Sgt. Matt Cooke, using your own body to shield a fellow soldier from further gunshots.
In 2009, Cooke was hit by five bullets during the Ft. Hood shooting in Texas when he threw himself on top of another wounded soldier. Cooke had already served two tours in Iraq and was preparing for a third tour in Afghanistan when the shooting occurred on the U.S. Army base. Miraculously, Cooke survived and is now medically retired from the military, but the healing process continues as he takes it day by day.
As part of his recovery, Cooke plans to volunteer with the American Red Cross.
“It’s me giving back to the Red Cross for what they did,” said Cooke. Cooke received 12 units of blood at the hospital following the shooting.
Cooke’s mother, Diane Frappier and stepfather, Jerry Frappier, who have been at Cooke’s side throughout the recovery process, have longstanding ties to the Red Cross. For 11 years, Jerry has volunteered with Red Cross Disaster Services Technology, working on 26 large disaster responses across the country. In addition, both Jerry and Diane volunteer with their local disaster team, helping to respond to home fires in their community and teaching as disaster instructors.
After the shooting at Ft. Hood, Diane decided to also volunteer with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF), serving as a regional case coordinator.
“That’s what got me started with SAF – to see what they had done – the Red Cross was there,” said Diane. “They were in the waiting room with us when we were at the hospital. There was a Red Cross canteen set up on the floor. That’s what got me started.”
Diane has a personal and compassionate perspective when it comes to her work with emergency communications between military members and their families, recalling her own worst nightmare when she first heard her son had been shot.
“With everything that I have experienced with my son, with trying to get in touch with him, with him being gravely injured, I can understand,” said Diane. “When I am talking to a client and they are panicking, I have been through that panic so I can try to help them work through it.”
“The military family has given everything when their child joins the military,” Jerry continued. “The Red Cross is there to have their back, to say we’re part of your family and we’re going to do everything to take care of you.”
Both Diane and Jerry have received tremendous support from the Red Cross over the years and you can tell they are proud that Cooke will continue on the road to recovery by giving back with that same organization.
“Jerry has established a fabulous Red Cross family throughout the United States,” said Diane. “It’s such a support system. The family unit of the American Red Cross – It’s family. It really really is a family.”
When asked why Cooke was going to begin helping others through the Red Cross while he continued on his own difficult journey of recovery, he responded, “It’s a role or routine that has been installed in me since I graduated boot camp in 1998. It’s a way of giving back to people, to the community, to society. You are used to putting your life on the line constantly for individuals, soldiers – It means a lot, to me at least, to keep giving what I can.”
Learn more about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.