By Kaelin Harris, American Red Cross volunteer
Since stepping into her role as Service to the Armed Forces Regional Senior Program Specialist for the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Debra Cox has been giving of herself tirelessly. Having a heart for service to others, Debra initially became involved with the Red Cross in 2019 after moving to San Diego. She had been a volunteer with the Salvation Army in Northern California and, says Debra, having interacted with the Red Cross on multiple occasions, she was witness to the competence and warmth that Red Cross volunteers and employees embody.
In her role with Service to the Armed Forces, Debra proudly serves those who serve their country. “The primary mission of Service to the Armed Forces is to support and assist both active and veteran members of our armed forces, as well as their families, throughout pre- and post-deployment cycles,” says Debra. Acknowledging that the challenges many service members and their families face are indeed unique, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces staff and volunteers around the world focus their efforts on helping these families navigate those challenges and the complex needs that arise from being a service member or the family of a service member.
Debra notes that the Red Cross has a long history of serving the armed forces. During the Civil War, Red Cross founder Clara Barton provided nursing care and supplies to soldiers — activities that earned her the nickname Angel of the Battlefield. When the war ended, Clara found new ways to help the military, a legacy the organization continues to this day. Debra shares that the United States Congress, for example, has chartered the Red Cross to deliver emergency communication messages to military members and their families while service members are deployed. The importance of relaying these messages between service members and their families cannot be understated. Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces also provides Mind-Body and Reconnection Workshops, deployment teams in-theater, Reconnection Workshops, military hospital and clinic programs, Veterans Services and much more.
Debra especially enjoys supporting military members in both pre- and post-deployments and presenting information about Red Cross services at outreach events. She also enjoys writing for the Service to the Armed Forces team. Noting her “incredible, competent and compassionate teammates,” Debra acknowledges and praises her fellow Red Cross colleagues for their amazing work ethic and their selfless work supporting service members and military families.
When asked if there is a particular mission moment that stands out to her, Debra can’t think of just one. At every level she has found joy and passion in her service to others; whether it was interacting with military members all the way up the chain of command or bringing cheer and comfort to veterans facing difficult diagnoses and challenges whilst in treatment facilities, she has enjoyed every moment of serving those who serve our country.
Debra’s compassion for others, her selfless giving and her enthusiasm to help military members and their families navigate the complex and often tiresome world of deployment and beyond has truly been an inspiration. She reflects the core values of the Red Cross in the way she extends a helping hand to people who, as she puts it, “have or are now sacrificing so much – being away from their loved ones for months at a time, being gone during milestone events, [and ultimately] putting themselves in harm’s way for a cause greater than themselves.”
As a parent of a son serving in the armed forces, Debra strives to offer her support in such a way that it inspires others to do the same for those who, like her son, serve their country and its people. “I cannot think of many greater honors than supporting those who defend the freedoms we here in the United States enjoy,” says Debra. She makes the Red Cross mission her own, serving those in need – whatever that need may look like – and supporting those who give their all for their country. Thank you, Debra, for your Service to the Armed Forces!
To learn more about Red Cross services and programs for members of the military community and their families, visit redcross.org/military.