By Brianna Kelly, American Red Cross
The American Red Cross Southern California Region is proud to honor local veterans making a difference every day. In communities across SoCal, many veterans are serving their country a second time through their work with the American Red Cross. Read on for a Q&A to learn more about how one of these hometown heroes, Patricia Perez, is making an impact as a Service to the Armed Forces Program Manager in the American Red Cross Southern California Region.
When you served, did you ever receive Red Cross services or cross paths with the Red Cross?
Patricia: While I personally didn’t receive any direct Red Cross services, many sailors and colleagues did, especially AMCROSS-American Red Cross messages. I was a Radioman, which is now called Information Systems Technician (IT). In my role, I was responsible for the secured management of communication operations and networks aboard Navy commands. I was also stationed at a command that handled all messages for deployed vessels on the West Coast, so I helped to make ensure the emergency messages got to the commands on time.
What is the biggest takeaway from your time in the military?
Patricia: The key to success is teamwork. In the Navy, every recruit had to go through Basic Training (boot camp) for eight weeks. They also had to pass boot camp to be called a sailor.
One of the requirements for graduating from boot camp is to pass battle stations, which is an obstacle course that tests upper body strength, agility and cardiovascular endurance. I didn’t pass the course the first time because I stopped running. I was given another chance to redo the course a night before my graduation ceremony, and I almost stopped again, but my team didn’t allow me to give up. Boot camp was the hardest for me, and I would have missed out on this experience if it were not for the support of my team.
What do you remember most about your time in the military?
Patricia: I remember the unique experiences that I would not have had if I didn’t serve.
How does it feel to know that you are able to serve your country a second time through your work with the American Red Cross? Do you think there are any parallels between your military service and what you do with the Red Cross?
Patricia: Yes, there are so many parallels between the military and the American Red Cross. Both organizations are mission focused, and they are both very committed to serving the military, veterans, their families and humanity.
What is your favorite thing about the Red Cross?
Patricia: The ability to still service the same group of people [military members] – and more – is my favorite thing about being a Red Crosser. From the provision of free preparedness services such as smoke alarms, to providing blood that can save lives, to delivering Hug-a-Hero dolls for military children, offering resiliency workshops to learn stress coping tools, to the courtesy – and comforting– phone call a family member receives about their newly enlisted service member… just knowing that no matter how small the service is, our efforts are making a difference, makes being a Red Crosser rewarding.
The Red Cross Southern California Region is proud to support the military community. Are you looking for ways to give back to our nation’s heroes and their families? You can honor those who have served by giving your time as a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer. Sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross and start helping military families today. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more. For information about Red Cross programs and resources available to service members, veterans and their families, visit redcross.org/military.