In her role with the American Red Cross, Ava Carter briefs new service members and their families at the Shreveport Military Entrance Processing Station every Tuesday. As part of her “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” workshop, she tells service members, “We (the Red Cross) are everywhere you are. We are your little piece of home when you are away.”
On Monday, Carter will represent the Red Cross and be that “little piece of home” for our service members in Kuwait, as she begins a six-month deployment.
Carter, who has worked for the Red Cross in Louisiana for the past year, is excited for her first overseas deployment that first takes her to training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the other side of my job and to learn first-hand what it’s like to be deployed,” Carter said. “I think it will help me have more empathy … and it will flesh out how I understand my role in Service to the Armed Forces.”
The Red Cross provides help in person wherever it is needed – alongside troops throughout the world, in veterans hospitals, on stateside military installations, and in communities far from a base. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross answers calls from military family members who may be in need. If that need is financial, the Red Cross can provide immediate assistance with the help of the military aid societies or link that family with resources in their community.
Each day, Red Cross volunteers help about 1,000 military families through emergency communication, passing on messages about births, illnesses, or deaths in the family. When a Red Cross message arrives, the service member knows the information is accurate and the commander can make an informed decision about whether or not to grant the military member leave.
Carter knows first-hand the importance of the emergency communication role of the Red Cross. While her sister was deployed and their mother was dying of cancer, a Red Cross worker became that critical piece of home for their family. The Red Cross facilitated a leave of absence for her sister to return home during the crisis period.
“In the spirit of gratitude and reciprocity, Ava is making herself available to be that comfort for someone else,” said Robert Harris, Service to the Armed Forces and Veterans program director for the Red Cross in Louisiana. “It is only through such highly dedicated employees like Ava that we make a critical difference in the lives of our service members when family emergencies arise.”
Deployments can be a stressful time for members of the military and their loved ones back home. The work of the Red Cross means that service members on deployment can have the peace of mind that their families will be cared for.
“Our work is important to the nation because it is important to the troops and their families,” said Sgt. First Class Harris, who recently returned from Kuwait as a service member with the Louisiana National Guard. “We give service members the comfort of knowing that we will be there if their families turn to us for help, allowing our heroes to stay focused on their mission.”
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Carter did her undergraduate work at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she also earned a master’s of social work. She holds a master’s of business administration from Cleveland State University.
“Ava has done an outstanding job caring for our military members and their families in north Louisiana and across the state,” said Kay W. Wilkins, chief executive for the Red Cross of Louisiana. “I am delighted that she has the opportunity to deepen her knowledge of our essential Red Cross role by deploying to Kuwait.”
Carter first started with the Red Cross in 2005 in its Biomedical Division before working for a number of years in the corporate world. Seeking purpose and meaning in her career, Carter took a significant pay cut to return to the Red Cross.
“This is the best job, by far, that I have ever had,” Carter said.
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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.