By Holly Berthold
If you are among those lucky enough to have interacted with Gabriela, “Gaby” Gallagher, you’ve no doubt come away feeling inspired and fortunate to know her. Gaby holds a position in the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces division as Regional Program Manager. Her hard work is carried out in the Missouri and Arkansas Region, with focus on Ft. Leonard Wood, Central and Northern Missouri, as well as with her team members located in St. Louis, Springfield, Kansas City and Little Rock.
Although she is often tapped to assist with a variety of projects, Gaby’s work is mostly focused on assisting with the delivery of American Red Cross programs and services to meet the needs of United States military members, veterans and their families. This is accomplished through managing volunteers and working with several other Red Cross departments. “We are a very strong team. We strive to go beyond to bring the best to our military and their families,” says Gaby.
Gaby oversees Red Cross volunteer programs at the Military Treatment and Dental facilities on Ft. Leonard Wood, as well as Truman VA hospital in Columbia. She and her team not only bring a variety of resiliency workshops to the military and veteran community, but also provide critical assistance, community outreach; and working with regional partners to offer and partner with special events. Gaby swells with pride as she recounts one beloved celebration, “National Veteran Patient Week.” During this anticipated event, Comfort Care Kits are loaded with snacks, sweets, flags, and toiletries and packed along with “love notes” from volunteers. It’s easy to see why this is so impactful on the patients, volunteers and servicemen, and families of all involved.
Gaby explains, “We provide a full continuum of care to military, veterans and their families. The moment their hand is raised in oath, we are there for them and their loved ones, active or former military. That’s very unique.”
As with so many others, Gaby’s life took an unexpected turn in 2020. After serving eight months supporting the US military on a mission in the Middle East, expecting to complete the deployment in July, she wound up staying until September. Gaby’s ever-present optimism made the best of the situation and after her return to Ramstein Air Base for out processing and before returning to the US, she was able to enjoy an unexpected, yet long overdue visit to her parents in her hometown of Ettlingen, Germany, located 45 minutes south of Heidelberg. This visit brought back fitting memories of life so many years ago, having started her career in early education. Yet Gaby was compelled to serve in another capacity: as an American Red Cross volunteer delivering messages to military. That experience laid the groundwork that would last a lifetime, touches thousands of lives.
Gaby shares that Covid-19 has added opportunities along with the hardship. “Despite the pandemic, we were able to come up with creative ways to reach families and veterans; and fast! We now understand new ways to support, help and assist using virtual measures, and now of course we can reach even more people.”
What is remarkable about Gaby is not only her diverse expertise and dedication to those she serves, but that she has indeed given her entire life serving those who serve our country.
When asked what is most satisfying about her position, Gaby answers that it’s tough to name one thing. “It’s a big honor to provide to those who have served our country. As a military spouse of a veteran, with over 20 years in active duty, now we’re the “older ones”, she says with a laugh. We have been walking the walk and now we are sharing what we know with younger people. And of course, there is an instant connection with the veterans. It’s just amazing what the Red Cross does. No matter where you go in the world, you are among family.”