Bryan Kennard is a Red Cross volunteer in the Services to the Armed Forces department (SAF). SAF offers pre- and post-deployment support to military personnel and their families; helps military members and their families communicate during family emergencies; and provides non-medical support at VA hospitals. Bryan offers the following reflections on his Red Cross experience.
After years of witnessing American Red Cross volunteers throughout the continental United States expanding positive change within various diverse communities every single day. I realized during one of my PhD courses that humanitarian change doesn’t begin with others – it begins with me. It is for this reason that I sought out to begin my journey to positive change with the American Red Cross Ohio Buckeye Region team in September of 2016 as a Red Cross Corps member. This opportunity focuses on emergency preparedness through the Services to the Armed Forces Pillowcase Project and the Home Fire Campaign to install home smoke detectors.
While I have not had the opportunity to deploy with the Red Cross as of this date, I have heard from other volunteers several stories of their experiences. I have had a similar sense of satisfaction when a person reaches out in their time of need requesting that the Red Cross send an emergency communication to a service member’s command.
It is rewarding to know that I have eased a family’s anxiety by helping them connect with their loved one. Sometimes I am part of the process that gets a member of the military home before a loved one dies. On other occasions, I’m passing along exciting news about the birth of a new family member! Either way, I am helping a military family feel connected and supported. The feeling of achievement and fulfilment is the same pride that I feel when I have completed a painting or an essay.
There are thousands of Red Cross volunteers nationwide who share my desire to be a positive force in our world. Whether it is in a city environment like my hometown or a rural area like Zanesville, Ohio where I currently reside, the footprints of the American Red Cross can be felt. I am glad that my footprints have joined other volunteers as we strive to turn compassion into action.