More than 40 teens and parents attended Military Youth Awareness Day, co-hosted by the American Red Cross, on Saturday. Young people contemplating service in the U.S. Armed Forces ROTC or one of the Service Academies at US Naval Academy, USAF Academy, West Point, USCG Academy or Merchant Marine Academy gathered at the American Red Cross in Baton Rouge to learn about Military Service opportunities.
With presentations by the Young Marines, Civil Air Patrol, Naval Sea Cadets and American Red Cross, the event offered young people the opportunity to explore early military training and volunteer programs.
The event began with a video address by U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, responsible for nominating Louisiana students to attend America’s five Service Academies. Presentations by the Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines and U.S. Naval Sea Cadets followed, with State Representative Franklin J. Foil, a U.S. Navy Veteran, speaking on behalf of the Sea Cadets. Young Marines Commander Ed Davis discussed how the program has transformed many teens, including his own son. “We’re trying to send kids into the world ready for the world,” Davis said.
American Red Cross Chapter Executive Bobbi Zaunbrecher explained how the partnership began more than 100 years ago when American Red Cross founder Clara Barton led a group of nurses to care for American soldiers on the battlefields of the Spanish-American War.
Today, while the needs of the military are changing, the Red Cross remains a key military partner through its Services to the Armed Forces programs like Holiday Mail for Heroes, a project in which holiday cards are delivered to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.
Resilience Manager Nathan Hammett closed out the event with a presentation of volunteer opportunities available at the Red Cross for young people. In the past, volunteers as young as 14 (accompanied by an adult) have helped with a variety of disaster activities, including sheltering, feeding and disaster assessment.
“We believe youth have the potential to make a difference in huge ways,” Hammett says. “In our eyes, youth are a vital resource bringing energy, innovation and inspiration to the American Red Cross.”