Service members are our real-life heroes. They are the selfless people who help defend and protect our country. Since its establishment in the 1880s, the American Red Cross has been committed to offering support to these military members through its Services to the Armed Forces department. Services to the Armed Forces aims to help military members and their families by offering assistance such as supporting military families during family emergencies or providing non-medical services in military hospitals.
One important volunteer in the Services to Armed department is Elle McDaniel. Elle has devoted much of her time and energy to helping service members. Elle first started working with the Red Cross as an intern in 2017. After her internship ended, Elle decided to start volunteering with Services to the Armed Forces. She wanted to work with the military and help support them. In college, Elle majored in International Studies. Since Services to Armed Forces is linked to the International Services department, it was a fitting role for her.
In the Services to the Armed Forces department, Elle works in Emergency Communications Services. After a service member has been made aware of a family emergency, Elle’s role is to call the family members to notify them that the service member has been given the message. To prepare for her work, Elle did several online trainings and was also trained by her colleagues and her director. She learned how to make the calls as well as do the casework required. Her department also offers other services, such as connection workshops, post-entry deployment, and briefings to new service members.
“Working with the military and the military’s families is very cool because you get to do services for them and make their lives easier,” Elle says. “The service members are doing so much for our country in general. The Red Cross alleviates those extra things that just make life harder sometimes, especially in terms of emergencies. It’s really cool to be able to reassure families and to be a supporting member of society for them.”
Volunteering with the Services to the Armed Forces department has also given Elle a newfound appreciation for the military.
“Going into it I didn’t know much about the military at all. I didn’t really have that many family members in the military, so I didn’t really quite know how everything worked,” Elle states. “But now I am pretty knowledgeable about the different rankings and the different ways that military life works. Also, just getting to hear people’s experiences and what they are going through is cool.”
Elle also learned a variety of skills that she can take with her anywhere. She encourages others to help out with work.
“It is just an incredible opportunity,” Elle says. “The skills that you learn are not just the hard skills of how do the casework or how to get a job experience…you also learn a lot of soft skills in terms of how to be compassionate, be unbiased, make good decisions on your feet, be able to be confident in them, to interact with people, and also speak well publicly”.
Volunteers like Elle make the work of the Services to the Armed Forces possible, and more volunteers are greatly needed! If you are interested in volunteering, you can fill out an application at https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/buckeye/volunteer.html.
Volunteering with Services to the Armed Forces is truly a great opportunity to give back to the service members who have done so much for this country.