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Soldier's call to SAF get the job done

Heart of Missouri Red Cross, Soldier's call to SAF News Photo
They have things soldiers don’t even know about.

Family members needed Staff Sgt. Nichola Saunders to be at an Atlanta hospital during President’s Day weekend when her mother’s health started to fail.

The Army truck driver, who is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, received a call from her sister in Atlanta just before the start of the holiday weekend to tell Nichola about their mother.

“I talked with one of my co-workers and he said ‘You know, you can go to the Red Cross and talk to them,’ ” said Nichola, a soldier for 18 years. “Actually, I was trying to get the hospital to send a Red Cross message. He (her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Saunders) called and tried to get the hospital to do it. The nurses said they didn’t have the authority to do it. My co-worker said you can call the Red Cross yourself.”

Timothy, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood with his wife, made a call to the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces on Saturday while Nichola worked her scheduled shift.

The truck-driving mother of one was on a plane to Atlanta on Monday.

“After he called Red Cross, the Red Cross said we offer services with the flight and other items,” Nichola said. “They got me funding for a plane ticket, funding for a rental car, food, gas and hotel. They called to make sure I arrived and to make sure everything was okay.”

Fort Leonard Wood Red Cross Station Manager Peter Buttner was Nichola’s caseworker. He reviewed her case and followed up to make sure it was satisfactory and sent out a survey for her response to Red Cross services.

Red Cross support provided Nichola, the opportunity to spend about two weeks with her family.

“Without the Red Cross, she wouldn’t have been able to assist her family when they needed it the most,” said Timothy. “Her sister is a single mother who has a job and has to use public transportation to get around. When she went down there and had a rental car, it was very helpful. Her sister had been dealing with the majority of the stresses with the doctors and the nurses.”

Timothy was especially impressed how the Red Cross provided service.

“I was enthused about the manner and the quickness that Red Cross was able to provide help,” Timothy, an IT specialist, said. “I was impressed with them for not only for getting the Red Cross message and contacting the hospital and her unit, but for providing the 24-hour service and the advocates over the phone.”

Nichola’s mother recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, but continues to require care in her Atlanta home.

“It was a holiday weekend,” Timothy said. “We were still able to get the help and support we needed just as fast as if it was a regular 9-5 day. I was impressed with that. Everyone had a caring attitude. No one was rude or not partial to the situation. Everyone was very respectful and helpful.”

Nichola previously used Red Cross Service to Armed Forces in the 1990s when she was stationed in Germany. Her mother was sick then as well and a Red Cross emergency message enabled her to go home.

“I’m going to be like a walking billboard for the Red Cross,” said Nichola. “I’m going to market the Red Cross. They have things soldiers don’t even know about.”

“It’s a great service. It’s a great organization. I would tell other don’t use it only when you need it. Come and be a volunteer. That’s what I intend on doing.”