By Ellis Levinson/American Red Cross
This Veterans Day, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region honors Andrea Mullen, a military veteran who continues a life of service as a Red Cross volunteer. Veterans who support their communities carry on the mission founded by Clara Barton, who first administered care to soldiers on Civil War battlefields.
When Andrea completed nursing school, she joined the Air Force and served as an anesthesiology nurse for 13 years. After separating from the Air Force, she attended veterinary school and upon graduating joined the U.S. Army Reserve. For ten years she served as a vet, the animal kind, work that sent her to Kosovo to care for the military’s explosive sniffing canines. In her free time, Andrea volunteered to care for the health and well-being of the community’s pets.
Andrea joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2018 but didn’t deploy until early 2023 when a tornado hit Rolling Fork and Silver City, small towns in West Central Mississippi with populations of 1,800 and 200 people, respectively. Many of Rolling Fork’s 850 homes had been flattened, utility outages were widespread and water supplies were dwindling.
In preparation for deployment, Andrea spent two days in Los Angeles training in sheltering and distribution of disaster supplies. Upon her arrival in Mississippi, Andrea was assigned to sheltering but ended up spending most of her time distributing emergency provisions — including food, water, ice chests, shovels, rakes, and gloves.
One day Andrea and another volunteer drove three hours each way to pick up supplies from a Red Cross distribution center in Northern Mississippi. Another day, the pair went home to home amid the wreckage of Silver City to identify each household’s immediate needs.