On a cold December night, families of local Armed Forces members, gathered at the Red Cross for a briefing on how the Red Cross can help service members and their families cope with military life. Columbus, Ohio does not have a military base to offer on-site support for military families, which increases the importance of services provided by the Red Cross.
Present were girlfriends, wives, parents, siblings, children, grandparents and even an uncle, all of whom wanted to learn more. The 18 family members were briefed by Drew Rohr, a Red Cross volunteer, who was sitting in the audience just a year prior, after his son joined the military. Drew is a veteran and comes from a military family, as did many of those present. One participant captured that multi-generational commitment to the military when she matter-of-factly stated, “If you are healthy and able, we serve in our family”.
Participants learned that, as part of its Congressional charter, the Red Cross serves the military in many ways including providing a worldwide emergency communications network that operates around the clock, 365 days a year. The Red Cross also provides the military with verification of family emergency situations to help service members and their command make decisions regarding leave; information and referrals to community and government resources; coping and reintegration education; and, in partnership with military aid societies, access to emergency financial assistance.
While knowing this information was valued by the participants, the camaraderie that came from interacting with other families whose loved-ones are in the military was priceless. Friendships were sparked at the meeting that will last well into the future.
Learning that the Red Cross will be there in good times and bad was comforting, but the families had an immediate concern that evening. Their most burning questions were about upcoming graduation ceremonies many planned to attend. They learned that the occasions will be somewhat formal and always inspirational. They were also told to expect to “hurry up and wait”. That brought knowing smiles from many of these military families who have proudly responded to the call to serve their country.
You can learn more about American Red Cross Services to Military Families here. New Military Family Get-Togethers are offered periodically at the Red Cross. Visit the website above for a complete schedule.
Thanks to public affairs team volunteer Virginia Tyler for this post.