The American Red Cross has Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) staff members stationed around the world to provide services to military members, their families and veterans. These workers include fathers and sons, mothers and daughters who often find themselves far from their loved ones on holidays such as Mother’s Day.
Thankfully this year, two SAF workers, Kathleen Butler and her daughter Samantha Wudel will celebrate Mother’s Day together on an Air Force base in Germany.
Kathleen Butler has worked for the Red Cross for more than 31 years. Today, she serves as the senior station manager, overseeing four military installations in Germany including Kaiserslautern area Army installations, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Ramstein Air Base and Spangdahlem Air Base.
Her daughter, Samantha Wudel works not too far away, as the Red Cross station manager in Bamberg Germany, overseeing station operations, volunteer recruitment and program development. Samantha has worked for the Red Cross for almost ten years now.
COMMITTED TO THE RED CROSS MISSION “When Samantha first graduated from her MBA program, and had applied to many locations, including the Red Cross, my first question was, ‘What were you thinking?” said Samantha’s mother, Kathleen. “Your dad and I hoped you would get a high paying job so you can take care of us when we get old!”
“I was kidding because I was actually thrilled to think she might be joining me in this world of Red Cross for which I possess a deep passion,” said Kathleen.
Both Samantha and Kathleen have a strong connection to the Red Cross mission.
“I believe in the mission,” said Samantha. “When I finished my MBA I spent about six months looking for a permanent career position. During that time I spent a lot of time listing the things I didn’t want to do. When I thought about the Red Cross I realized it was one of the few options I had considered that didn't cause me any philosophical qualms. I can honestly say what we do is good and am proud to be a part of it.”
To prove herself Samantha worked hard her first few years with the Red Cross to move out from beneath her mother’s shadow and away from the memory many staffers had of her when she was only “this big”.
“I'm happy to say it has been a very long time since anyone has introduced me to a group of people as anything other than myself,” said Samantha.
THE DEMANDS OF SAF DEPLOYMENTS Both Samantha and Kathleen also appreciate having someone to talk to that understands the demands of the job.
“Like many military personnel, mobile staff only share the happy stories regarding deployments with our families and co-workers. We downplay the danger factors, to ease their fears,” said Kathleen. “Having a daughter who also deploys, there are no secrets.”
Red Cross mobile staff deploy into danger zones to support military and civilians serving in combat. These staff members process emergency communication messages between distant loved ones, offer community rooms to relax, and provide someone to listen. While not everyone needs a counselor, having someone to sit with and hear what they need to say helps.
Kathleen and Samantha, who provide this vital assistance for military members and their families, take comfort in talking to each other.
“It's nice having someone to talk to about what's going on that really understands, both the good and bad days,” said Samantha. “In spite of the distance, it has brought us a lot closer over the years.”
This Mother’s Day, with mother and daughter within driving distance for the first time in ten years, Samantha will visit her mother Kathleen to attend the Ramstein Officer's Club Annual Mother's Day Brunch. They plan to arrive in style, each driving their Harley Davidson motorcycle.
SAF HELPS MILITARY AROUND THE WORLD Red Cross SAF workers are present at more than 50 military installations around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. Through these military installations and the network of Red Cross chapters across the country, the Red Cross works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to relay emergency messages to deployed service members, including those in remote locations and on ships at sea.
Last year the Red Cross provided services to more than 424,500 military members, veterans and civilians. Members of the Armed Forces can count on the Red Cross to help in times of crisis, access to financial assistance in partnership with military aid societies, as well as programs for the country’s veterans.
For more information, visit the Service to the Armed Forces program information on our web site.