Staff Sergeant Jerry Perez has done it all. As a member of the 192nd Ordinance Battalion stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, Sergeant Perez serves as a chemical specialist, on the bomb squad and has “jumped out of airplanes every now and then.” Staff Sergeant Perez has served his country in the U.S. Army for 15 years, but only recently has he been helping his country in a different way, as an American Red Cross volunteer.
Staff Sergeant Perez has been a Red Crosser for a year and a half. On evenings and weekends he goes to Womack Army Medical Center to pass out newspapers and visit the soldiers. “Volunteering and helping out other soldiers has become second nature to me. The clients are very grateful and the visits brighten their day and mine.”
On the weekends Staff Sergeant Perez helps out at the local 5K races and hands out drinks for the runners and Red Cross information from the booth. He credits his involvement with Red Cross to his wife Joanne.
Joanne comes from a military family. Both her father and brother served in the Army. “I have a lot of respect for the military and I appreciate their sacrifice,” explained Joanne. “I wanted to volunteer and give back to the soldiers.” She was first introduced to the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces when she and her family moved to Fort Bragg from Fort Lewis, Washington. One of the first things she did was sign up to volunteer with the American Red Cross. Two years later Joanne enrolled in the Red Cross Medical Assistant program where she received job training and was able to shadow the physicians from different specialties. While at the medical center, Joanne saw an opportunity to volunteer at the Red Cross office. “I help with administrative tasks, the hospitality cart, the processing and training of volunteers to be sensitive to medical regulations,” explained Joanne. In addition, Joanne helps with the Green Ramp events that center around deployments and returning soldiers. She provides snacks, Red Cross information, a pat on the back and a warm smile. “I like that I can make a difference.”
Volunteering has now become a family affair. Their thirteen-year-old son Jacob is following in his parent’s footsteps. He accompanies his parents on the 5Ks to give out Red Cross information and last Halloween he dressed up as Elmo and passed out candy to the pediatric patients at Womack Army Medical Center. “Jacob likes to help. I am very proud of my family,” said Joanne.
The Perez family encourages people to volunteer. “Helping others makes us better people, better human beings,” said Staff Sergeant Perez. For more information on how to volunteer with the Red Cross, please contact your local Red Cross office.