This Veterans Day, the American Red Cross recognizes veterans who continue to serve their communities through their work with the Red Cross. Veterans who step up to support their communities remind us how our mission was born on the battlefield through our founder, Clara Barton's care for Civil War soldiers.
Get to know three veterans who once relied on our emergency communications messaging while serving overseas and now serve their communities through the Red Cross.
Paying It Forward – Denise Teasdell, United States Navy Veteran
“Some years ago my little sister was killed in a car accident. I was on active duty in Hawaii, and the Red Cross gave me my emergency message," reported Denise Teasdell, a veteran who served as a Yeoman in the Navy. "After they got me home, they checked on me a couple of times and made sure I got back to Hawaii.”
Through the Hero Care Network, the Red Cross connects service members, veterans and their families to free and confidential assistance any day, anytime. This includes emergency communication messages, financial assistance, critical community services and more.
"Getting the information as quickly as possible is so important. I make a lot of the emergency calls myself," said Teasdell about her role as the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Director for the Red Cross of South Carolina. "Making sure they can get home to be with family is the most important thing to me because when it happened to me, Red Cross made sure I got home.”
Having received help during an emergency while serving, Denise knows just how critical Red Cross services are to military families.
"People just don't know what's available – we have a lot of people we're serving every day that aren't aware of everything we offer," she said. "I want to let them know what's available. We're offering all of these workshops for our active-duty service members and veterans."
Each year, the Red Cross assists more than 240,000 military and veteran families. We offer a variety of free resiliency workshops, both in person and online, to provide military, veterans and their families with effective tools for facing challenges and stress.
Veterans Continue to Answer The Call ─ Nancy Braswell, United States Air Force Veteran
"When I was stationed in Germany, my mother died very unexpectedly. She had a heart attack at age 63," Nancy Braswell, Winchester, Virginia, recalls, adding that she relied on Red Cross Emergency Communications services at that time. "The message came through approving my leave to be with my family and go to the funeral. I was in Germany; my husband was in Korea, and they brought him back too. The Red Cross helped both of us."
After a 20-year career with the United States Air Force, Braswell retired from military service and her role as an Intelligence Officer. Not long after, she was recruited by a fellow parishioner at her church to volunteer with the Red Cross. She began assisting with relaying SAF emergency communications messages and volunteering at blood drives. "It makes life worthwhile when you feel like you're helping other people," Braswell said.
Over the decades, Braswell has held many volunteer roles, from serving on her local chapter board to researching the chapter's history in celebration of its 100th anniversary. Last year, Nancy and her husband, Gary Braswell—also an Air Force Veteran, were thrilled to learn they were again eligible to give blood after an FDA change that had previously limited donations from people who lived in parts of Europe, impacting many military members.
Service Is In Our Blood - Alexis Ware, United States Marine Corps Veteran
"The military is deeply woven into the fabric of who I am – I'm extremely passionate about the military," Alexis Ware shares. Being a Marine Corps veteran, daughter of an army soldier, and spouse of a retired Airman influenced her career. "It feels like home working with the military ─ this is the job I'm supposed to be doing. It's been an amazing journey."
Alexis began her civilian career with the Red Cross over 11 years ago, first in Biomedical Services as a phlebotomist in Wichita, Kansas, where her husband was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base. She recently accepted a role as the SAF director in Tennessee to support the line of service that most fills her heart.
"My sister survived a suicide attempt while I was in the military. My family had to use Red Cross emergency messaging services to contact my unit and let me know she was not expected to live. Because of the Red Cross, I was able to return home to be by her side," Ware said.
Now Ware helps families like her own as they deal with emergencies. She educates service members, veterans and their families on the many ways the Red Cross can support them through life's challenges, from reconnecting service members with their families after the death of a loved one to more joyful occasions like the birth of a child.
For Alexis, service is in her blood. "I think the desire to serve humanity starts from childhood. You see it in your parents, and you mimic that and continue the traditions you grew up with," Ware said. “I've seen donors giving blood, who bring their child along with them, and it creates another generation of blood donors. We have to be mindful of what we model for our children because it becomes a part of who they are."
For veterans like Denice, Nancy, and Alexis, service to one's country is never done – it simply evolves. The Red Cross is powered by compassionate humanitarians like them who see a need and work to meet it; from the battlefield to the disaster zone and from the blood drive to the Hero Care Network – Red Crossers are there.
Give the gift of time – Volunteer as a Hero Care Network caseworker
The American Red Cross Hero Care Network provides emergency communications and critical services to military members, veterans and their families worldwide, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Virtual volunteer opportunities are available. To learn more about how you can help this Veterans Day, visit redcross.org/HeroCareVolunteer.
National Donors Join Long Legacy of Red Cross Military Support
Generous donations from Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Giving Program (SAFGP) members enable the American Red Cross to maintain a global network of thousands of volunteers and employees to support the military 365 days a year through emergency communications, training, community resources and support to ill and injured service members and veterans. Contributions from partners like Lockheed Martin Corporation, Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., USAA and Wilf Family Foundations ensure the Red Cross is there 24/7 to provide comfort and care to members of the military, veterans and their families as they prepare for, cope with and respond to the challenges of military service.