April is the Month of the Military Child and the American Red Cross recognizes the younger members of military families who serve their country alongside their loved ones.
Ellen Johnston and Rachel Grygier have been military “kids” most of their lives and serve as Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteers. They met on their first day at the Pulley Career Center in Fairfax, Virginia, this past fall and through the Center’s partner program with the Red Cross, are learning office skills at Fort Belvoir Army Garrison.
The Center is part of the Fairfax County school system and works to provide a transition from school to adult life for young adults of varying abilities. Several days a week a bus transports students to Ft. Belvoir where they volunteer, doing such things as taking inventory, answering phones, computer and public speaking training as well as a myriad of other duties.
One thing the two friends have in common is active duty military dads. Grygier’s stepfather is in the Air Force and Johnston’s father is in the Army. For both young women, the hardest times have been the deployments when they really missed seeing their dads every day. Johnston says one of the reasons she enjoys volunteering on Ft. Belvoir with the Red Cross is the sense of connection - she’s so used to being around the military. Her volunteering gives her a feeling of contributing which makes her proud.
These two young women realize that they, too, serve their country as military children and as Red Cross volunteers. “It feels really good to be helping, serving, and recognized for that,” Johnston said.