“For the military, the Red Cross is the ‘go-to’ organization to get word to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines while deployed across the globe,” says Los Angeles-based, Navy Commander Brian Kurzeja, describing one of the defining missions of the American Red Cross.
Service to the Armed Forces ensures that current members of the United States Armed Forces, other eligible clients and their families have worldwide, 24-hour access to timely and reliable emergency communications, case management services, and access to emergency financial assistance from military aid societies. The Red Cross has earned a reputation for providing prompt and responsive help when it is needed.
For Navy Lieutenant Jackie Ponce, a nurse and officer, the Red Cross has been an inspiration both here and abroad. She served in Iraq and saw the Red Cross in action there and while serving stateside.
“While I was stationed at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, there were Red Cross home visiting nurses who volunteered their time to visit individuals upon discharge who did not necessarily qualify for a home health nurse but may have needed additional care or teaching upon discharge,” says Ponce. “Most of these nurses were retired and volunteered their time to take care of the military and their families. The things they did were very inspiring.”
Kurzeja adds: “I've received notifications of deaths, serious illnesses, and other major events where we've been able to put the service member in touch with the appropriate people back home. We also used to get messages from nervous parents whose children hadn't called home in a while. When I arrived in Japan after the tsunami and went to Yokota airbase which was the US Headquarters, the American Red Cross had set up a reception center with coffee and snacks to support not only the responders arriving, but the family members evacuating. They worked that center 24-hours-a-day through the crisis and were always there with a smile and a warm cup of coffee.”
When men and women answer our nation’s call to serve, they and their families face challenges unique to military life: multiple deployments, prolonged separation from loved ones and risk of injury.
None of us can erase these challenges, but we can ensure that military members, veterans and their families never face them alone. The American Red Cross is beside our heroes from the day they join the military, throughout their military careers and beyond. We provide critical services with a caring touch.