The American Red Cross employs individuals that strive to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from disaster in various forms, and the services toward the armed forces is a primary component of the relief provided. Samantha Youngren of Pensacola coordinates the services to the armed forces, and she is a former full-time service member as well – spending 22 years with the Air Force.
Youngren spends her time away from the Red Cross by continuing her service to the armed forces as an enlisted Air Force reserve member – conducting military drills once a month. She also travels with her family on their boat to various islands along Florida’s coast.
Her work within the Red Cross spans from Pensacola to Tallahassee, and the work she does toward service members is performed on a daily basis. From directing individuals to proper channels of assistance, monthly deployment meetings, deployment briefings and emergency communication family follow ups. Youngren understands the importance of the work being done because of personal experience from her time in the Air Force and childhood.
Youngren is a third-generation service member and self-proclaimed military brat. One of her best memories regarding a personal experience with the Red Cross was when she was 17 years old and had an emergency abdominal surgery. A Red Cross volunteer came to her bed side and helped her wash her hair after a long procedure that made it difficult to move.
During her time as an activated service member, Youngren received information that every family member never wants to receive. Her husband, Special Forces TACP Timothy Deslatte, died from a work accident, according to Youngren.
“My world changed, and the Red Cross services to armed forces rep helped get one of my sisters from Hawaii,” said Youngren, “and my other sister from Germany home for my late husband’s funeral.”
The Red Cross was able to have all family members home in time for the arrival of the fallen soldier.
“It was a single pivotal moment in my life, and when I left active duty, I knew I wanted to give back to the military community through selfless service.”
Youngren’s selfless service continues past her time within the military through the Red Cross, and it was evident when a currently deployed soldier had a parent pass over the July 4, 2016 weekend. Her effort successfully got the solider informed and back home before the funeral took place. Despite the tragic circumstances, communication is an essential part of Youngren’s job.
Normal emergency communication between a deployed solider and a family is done through the Hero Care Network. Once the emergency is verified, it is relayed to command and the case workers work intimately with the family until there is no further help needed.
As for advice toward individuals with family overseas, Youngren states that families must stay in contact, know where they are at all times and prepare for emergency.
“Life is too short and worrying about the little things makes it harder during a crisis,” said Youngren regarding her advice.