By Frederic Klein
Sergeant Major (Ret.) Frantz Metellus has stayed busy after his 27-year career as a combat medic in the U.S. Army. From 1981 until 2008, Frantz traveled around the world including deployments to southwest Asia and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his retirement from the Army, Frantz worked for a couple more years before fully retiring in 2010. But it wasn’t long before he heard the call of service again during Hurricane Sandy and joined the American Red Cross as a volunteer.
“The Red Cross during Sandy came to my mind, and I signed up to help,” Frantz said. “I was an [Emergency Response Vehicle] driver during Sandy. I went to Far Rockaway, Long Island, everywhere to help people — it was a disaster. I’ve never seen something like that. People were crying and they needed help from us at the Red Cross, and we provided them with the help they needed.”
Soon enough, Frantz started volunteering as an instructor to help teach preparedness —First Aid, hands-only CPR, and other classes. That’s where he met Jason Lyons, the Regional Preparedness Manager for the Red Cross in Greater New York. Jason has spent the past five years serving in the US Navy Reserves as a Seabee, a moniker which has evolved from the original acronym of ‘CB’ for Construction Battalion. Prior to working with the American Red Cross, Jason also worked with the British Red Cross and served as a volunteer with the Grenada Red Cross where he grew up. The two connected quickly, bonding over shared mannerisms and work ethics derived from their military service.
“The funny thing is, I can’t tell you what exactly it is,” Jason reflected. “But I think it’s the style of operating that just clicks. If I call Frantz and say we’re going to do a thing, I don’t need to give him much more information than that because he already knows what I’m thinking. I already know he’s going to do whatever he needs to get it done, and similarly [with him for me].”
Despite being at different points in their careers, Frantz volunteering in his retirement and Jason working full-time and continuing to serve in the US Navy Reserves, the two men had similar advice for service members returning home to civilian life.
“To leave the military and integrate into civilian life is a burden,” Frantz mused. “First and foremost, go easy – especially when you come back home with your family. Don’t rush into anything. But if you are bored, don’t know what you want to do, just go volunteer and then that will enhance your morale again because you can use your expertise and your point of view.”
Jason added, “Coming back to civilian life is really hard. Waking up whenever you want, going wherever you want. Even after two days doing drills, I have to adjust. I find that I’m giving orders at home. My suggestion is to get yourself busy. I come back and I’m wanting to keep myself active, because that’s what the military is like – you are always doing something. So, go get involved in something good.”
Service to the Armed Forces Volunteers Support Military Members, Veterans & Their Families. Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Some are retired military themselves, continuing their service by volunteering with the Red Cross. Whatever their background, our volunteers are united in wanting to make the challenges of military service a little lighter for everyone from the front lines to the home front. Apply to volunteer at redcross.org/volunteer.