By Mary Brant, Red Cross Communications Manager
This Veterans Day, the American Red Cross honors veterans who served our country faithfully and continue to serve through volunteer service with the Red Cross. Our mission was born on the battlefield through Clara Barton’s care for Civil War soldiers. That commitment continues to this day with service to our military community from the time a service member takes the oath to navigating life as a veteran.
“The Red Cross is all about service and veterans understand service whether to country, community or family,” said Red Cross Northern New England Region CEO, Stephanie Couturier. “Our Northern New England team is stronger because of the experience, commitment and energy our veteran volunteers bring to everything they do.”
The Northern New England Region encompasses New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Within our volunteer workforce, seven volunteers are active duty military, 112 are Veterans and 95 are military or veteran family members. Additionally, five current staff members are Veterans.
Each year, the Red Cross provides more than 513,000 services to members of the military, veterans and their families by leveraging a network of volunteers across the country and around the world. Last year, the Northern New England Region provided 2,985 services to military members, veterans and their families.
September 11th was a turning point in her life
Celeste Stimpson had numerous interactions with the Red Cross before joining our team in 2020. As a teenager, she remembers taking First Aid and CPR classes. In 2004, Celeste joined the Air Force serving in Security Forces as a Senior Airman. She was part of a team that helped new military members arriving to the base understand how the Red Cross helps facilitate the flow of emergency information about life events like births, deaths, illness, while they are apart from their families. Celeste now heads our mission to provide care and comfort to military members and their families as the Director of our region's Services to the Armed Forces.
September 11, was a huge influencer in my life; I was in high school when it happened and I knew from that moment I wanted to serve a cause higher than myself,” says Celeste. “I’ve also known people personally that have been impacted by natural disasters. My sister and her family went through a tornado and a close friend lost four family members in a tornado. For me, to go from serving my country to working with the Red Cross seemed a natural next step. All of my life experience prepared me for this.”
Her Red Cross team is just like her Navy team
Ruth Longenecker is a retired Navy nurse and the daughter of World War II veterans—her mother an Army Nurse, her father a Navy pilot. Her parents modeled the importance of service to country and giving back to the community with their words and deeds. Ruth’s Mother, Margaret, was a 50-year volunteer with the Red Cross and the first to teach CPR using Resusci Annie the original CPR doll used to train emergency workers and the general public.
Ruth has fond memories of herself and her brother accompanying their mother to first aid classes and volunteering as practice patients. They thought it was great fun to be bandaged from head to toe and cared for by class participants.
After retiring from the Navy, Ruth moved to Arizona to care for her mother. When her mother passed in 2020, she moved to Bath, Maine, to be closer to her brother. It was her opportunity to get involved again with the Red Cross and she chose to join Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) because of a soft spot in her heart for tackling the issues of homeless veterans.
What would Ruth tell others looking for a place to share their talents and life experience?
“I am blessed at this point in my life to be a volunteer with Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces. Volunteering with the Red Cross you are truly part of a team, just like when I was in the Navy,” says Ruth. “Our leadership team is awesome! It is a privilege to work with our active duty, veterans and their families and to share their journeys when help and support is needed. We are all a part of the same family.”
Commitment to service doesn't change whether wearing a uniform or a business suit
Jason Grower is a Veteran. After 24 years in uniform, the U.S. Navy Commander retired in 2018 and moved to New Hampshire. He now serves as a Regional Director of Operations with Dead River Company. Last year, Jason was asked to represent the fuel company on the local Red Cross Board of Directors, lending his expertise in operations management to the organization. Jason says, “It was an easy decision.”
“In the military, we are keenly aware of the work done by Red Cross in Service to the Armed Forces,” says Jason. “Whether verifying illness, injury or death with a serviceman’s family, from day one you are always aware that there is a nation- and worldwide community of volunteers who have your back.”
Service, whether to our country or his community, is an integral part of who Jason is; it doesn’t change whether wearing a uniform or a business suit.
“It is vital to me to give back, and volunteering with the Red Cross, a global organization committed to preventing and alleviating human suffering, is a good place to channel that energy,” said Jason. “I volunteer my time to the Red Cross because of the important work I saw being done in Service to the Armed Forces while on active duty. I was proud to serve my country, and I am proud to continue that service through volunteer work as part of the Red Cross.”
For More Information
From the first day of enlistment, service members and their families are eligible for Red Cross assistance including working with them including how to access resources available to them; delivering messages to active service during emergencies at home and connecting veterans with community services throughout their career.
To learn more about Red Cross support for our active military and veteran families visit redcross.org/SAF