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What’s the Story Behind This Iconic Photo?

Many have come across this photo before, as it has more than once made the rounds on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. But the historic image deserves more than just a passing glance, as it speaks volumes about the the changing roles and importance of  women and the American Red Cross during World War II.

world war ii WWII red cross women beach dday d-day
Taken on January 15, 1945, seven months after the D-Day Invasion at Normandy, the photo captures a United States Coast Guard-manned barge unloading its passengers onto a beach in the Riviera Region of Southern France. These passengers – Red Cross staff – arrived ready to “carry out their duties and keep high the spirits of Yank fighting men.”

These vast and varied duties grew out of the 1905 congressional charter requiring the Red Cross to “furnish volunteer aid to the sick and wounded armies in time of war” and “act…as a medium of communication between the people of the United States and their Army and Navy.” During World War II, some Red Crossers overseas provided aid to and operated clubs for members of the armed forces, while others served in field and evacuation hospitals and on hospital trains, ships and planes.

On the home front, volunteers provided support to veterans and their families, covered hospital staff shortages, manufactured emergency supplies, collected scrap, cultivated victory gardens, and coordinated nutrition, first aid and water safety training programs.

World War II led to a vast increase in opportunities, many of them with the Red Cross, for women to make a difference. And make a difference they did.

Find additional information about American Red Cross activities during WWII  and learn about the American Red Cross partnership with U.S. military members.

Red Cross: Caring for Each Other After the Orlando Shooting

Embracing Orlando

American Red Cross worker Steve Palm was at the public memorial for the Orlando shooting victims distributing water, tissues and sunscreen, when he noticed a gentleman holding a flag.

orlando shooting red cross hug flag“This is a beautiful rainbow flag. May we take a photo with you?” Palm inquired. He also shared how the Red Cross is an impartial and neutral organization, making no discrimination nationality, race, religious beliefs, etc. “We’re here to support humanity.”

The flag owner responded that he’d love to take a photo together. “I just found out something horrible,” he added.

As cameras clicked away, Palm gave the flag bearer a supportive embrace. “He really needed to be hugged. It seemed like the most natural thing I could do,” said Palm.

As he stepped away, Palm noticed several people around them had tears in their eyes and immediately came up and started hugging the man with the flag.

He was no longer grieving alone.

A Network of Critical Assistance

After the Orlando shooting, the Red Cross convened and collaborated with 37 agencies to create a Family Assistance Center (FAC), in conjunction with the City of Orlando and the FBI Office of Victims Assistance. This serves as an inclusive, confidential and safe environment for people affected by the shooting.

Amy Decker, a licensed mental health professional and Red Cross worker, traveled from Jacksonville to support the community. “What’s happening is with the love and support of the country and world,” Decker shared. “We dig a little deeper into each situation. It’s as if we peeled back the layers of complexity.”

Orlando shooting family assistance center red crossServices in the FAC include air travel, child and family services, consulates, counseling, spiritual care, funeral services, crime victim services, health care, ground transportation, identification documents, translations, legal aid, lodging, medical examiner and senior services.

One family of four brothers visited a partner agency in the FAC with a goal to return their slain brother’s body to Mexico.

After four hours and help from 27 agencies, the family found closure. All four brothers will be able to accompany their brother’s remains back to Mexico so their parents can plan a proper burial.

This outcome is possible through airline partnerships for pro-bono flights, immigration officials for reentrance back into the country and legal aid. The family is empowered with knowledge and provided with hotel rooms, food assistance, a shoulder to lean on and so much more.

“The brothers left in peace,” Decker shared.

Content compiled and edited from material written by Barbara Behling, Roberto Baltodano and Donna Morrissey

“Why I Give.” Anheuser-Busch and the Red Cross: 11 Decades of Partnership

Anheuser-Busch water red crossEver wonder why your favorite brand supports a particular cause or nonprofit? We sat down with Bill Bradley, vice president of Community Affairs at Anheuser-Busch, one of our longest standing partners to find out why the company gives to the Red Cross.

What inspires Anheuser-Busch to support the Red Cross?

We have a long-standing partnership with the Red Cross – dating back to 1906. Our co-founder Adolphus Busch saw first-hand the devastation caused by the San Francisco earthquake, and supported the relief efforts of the Red Cross. It’s that spirit of supporting communities in need that inspires our support today.

Do you have one example of when the Red Cross mission clicked for you? When did you understand the impact of the Red Cross mission, and how your company supports that mission?

Water is very important in our brewing process and is critical in disaster situations. We are uniquely positioned to help address this need through our breweries, our fast high-quality packaging lines and our distribution system.

Since 1960, we’ve worked with the Red Cross on getting emergency drinking water into the hands of those who need it, and since 1988 we have provided more than 74 million cans of emergency drinking water all across the country. The critical need for drinking water hit home for me this past winter when the St. Louis area was struck by severe flooding. It was incredible to see Red Cross disaster relief efforts first-hand. For our company, it is gratifying to know that our partnership’s positive impact on the lives in our community continues in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Anheuser-Busch water red cross
Can you talk more about your organization’s connection to the Red Cross? For instance, how does your organization support the Red Cross through the Annual Disaster Giving Program? 

In 2014, Anheuser-Busch announced a partnership with the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program – the first ADGP member in St. Louis. The Red Cross is on the front lines of disaster relief and can direct those donations to where they are needed most. In addition to that, we are uniquely suited to package and distribute water from our Cartersville, Georgia brewery to affected areas – usually within a couple of days.

We are also proud to be the founding sponsor of, and first to implement, the Red Cross Ready Rating Program through a $2.1 million grant. The program helps schools and businesses with their emergency planning and preparedness efforts. This helps them face a number of emergencies that could disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods to outbreaks of illness such as the flu.

Why is it important for your organization to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts?

Our corporate dream is to be the best beer company bringing people together for a better world. Supporting and partnering with the Red Cross to provide relief efforts at the community level – in many cases in the communities in which we do business and live – helps us to achieve that goal. For many hundreds of years, breweries have served as cornerstones of their communities. This is just one way we try to continue that tradition.

Anheuser-Busch waterWhat kind of impact has your contribution to the Red Cross had on your company, company culture, customers and employees?

Our employees are active in volunteering with the Red Cross, giving blood and taking courses such as first aid or CPR. We have also been an Authorized Provider of Red Cross Training for over 15 years. Since 2007, we have spent nearly $262,000 for Red Cross Aquatics and First Aid and CPR/AED training for more than 13,500 employees.

Since 1986, we’ve hosted over 900 blood drives across the country and collected nearly 39,000 units of blood, potentially saving over 116,000 lives. The partnership with the Red Cross goes beyond a monetary contribution; most of my colleagues at Anheuser-Busch are involved personally. That’s something we’re all especially proud of.


Anheuser Busch is a $1M member of the Red Cross ADGP program. It’s because of partners like Anheuser-Busch that the Red Cross is able to help and provide hope to individual and families nationwide. We are extremely grateful for the many ways Anheuser-Busch has generously continued its support of our Disaster Relief efforts, Blood Services and Preparedness, Health & Safety Services.

The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift: A Lifetime of Gratitude

Dads are superheroes. Cape-less warriors that can fix any scraped knee, protect you from bullies, and be there to catch you before you fall.

This Father’s Day, Red Crossers share stories of their dad’s influence, sacrifice and service.

Red Cross Provides Emergency Communications in Vietnam: Reflection for Father’s Day

By Brittany Jennings, Regional Communications Officer, Eastern North Carolina

service to the armed forces vietnam red cross fathers dayAt 18 years old, my dad, Walter Elzie Penland, enlisted in the Marine Corps. It was the Vietnam War era. He hadn’t received a draft letter, but he’d seen his three brothers deploy and he simply felt it was his job to serve his country.

It was from an island in the East China Sea that my dad wrote my Nana, asking for my mom’s hand in marriage. On that island, more than 21 hours away from home, he also ran 11 miles a day carrying more than 30 pounds of gear; endured several typhoons and heat waves exceeding 120 degrees; and experienced an emergency landing when his plane caught fire over the Pacific.

It’s where he also received a phone call from the Red Cross saying his brother was in a car accident and he needed to come home.

Every single day, brave men and women enlist in the military to make sure we are safe at home. And today, we celebrate the dads out there.

Happy Father’s Day to my daddy, and to all fathers in the armed forces. You are our heroes.

fathers day red cross service to the armed forces

Brittany hanging out with her dad at Christmas as a kid.

Serving the Armed Forces, Thanks to a Father’s Inspiration

Michael Chaison, SAF Division Manager, Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division

service to the armed forces red cross fathers dayLike my father and his father, I wanted to be a military aviator. After college, I went to sign up and was told that I could have anything but flight as I was horrible at spatial apperception. Apparently, when I think the plane is banking down and to the left, it is going to the right.

I still wanted to assist with the military and found a position with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. When I was leaving for my first assignment at Ft. Benning, Georgia, my father gave me an old Red Cross pin. He told me that a Red Cross staff member had given it to him in Vietnam.

CHaisonNow, 20 years later, I have had assignments in Georgia, California, Texas, Kosovo, Arizona, Kuwait, South Korea and Turkey. I have had the opportunity to assist members of our military, veterans and their families with emergency communications, access to financial assistance, good local referrals, resiliency education, volunteer opportunities, health and safety education, disaster assistance, international tracing, and sometimes, most importantly, just lending an impartial ear to their situation.

This Father’s Day and through the years, I hope that I can instill in my daughters those same principles as they grow.  I know that my father instilled them in me.

service the armed forces red cross father's day

Michael’s daughters, sitting with his father.

Emergency Communication Brings Dad-to-Be Home

And one of our favorite dad stories from the past year:


For more information about Red Cross services offered to military members, their families and veterans, on redcross.org.

Reaching Out to Orlando

A few hours after watching the horrific events unfold this past Sunday, the Greater New York Red Cross Regional CEO Josh Lockwood boarded a plane for Orlando to support the Red Cross response. Josh is assisting regional Red Cross leadership in Central Florida and dozens of volunteers as they work to provide comfort, compassion and love to a community in shock. Communications Officer at the Greater New York Red Cross, Mike de Vulpillieres, took a few moments to talk to Josh about his deployment.

red cross button lgbt lgbtq

Are you currently at the Central Florida Red Cross Headquarters in Orlando? Can you talk about your initial impressions since arriving?

Yes, I’m here at the local Red Cross right now. I first want to offer my deepest sympathies to this community and my heartfelt condolences to all who’ve lost loved ones. Being in the family assistance center and being confronted with people who had lost loved ones, all you feel is compassion and empathy. We just wish so much that these folks didn’t have to go through what they’re going through. I’ve also been blown away by the outpouring of love and generosity here as well as the sense of resiliency.

Can you talk about Sunday morning and the process of making yourself available to deploy?

Like so many people, I saw the event unfolding and I was in disbelief. I felt a combination of shock and outrage and sadness that such a massacre would take place. We always, as Red Crossers, have an impulse to want to do something and to help. As a gay man I personally felt an added desire to contribute in a meaningful way. And I was recently asked to be the national sponsor of the LGBT employee and volunteer group at the Red Cross and I now lead this group. It’s such a horrible event and I felt that, given my roles at the Red Cross, I needed to be a part of the response in Orlando. I immediately reached out to my counterparts down here [in Orlando] and to national Red Cross leadership and said I wanted to go. I left for Florida Sunday afternoon. Prior to leaving, my husband and I sat down with our six-year-old son and explained why I was traveling to Florida and why it was important that I do this.

Can you talk about when you first started working with the Red Cross team in Orlando?

red cross orlando shooting comfortI was connecting with people on the ground before I left, while I was in the airport and during my flight. I got to Orlando at 1 AM on Monday. A few hours after arriving, I went to the family assistance center to thank the mental health volunteers who had been working all night and all day to support families grappling with this news. This included many large, close-knit, Latino families with extended families who were being informed one by one, that their loved ones were deceased.

Red Crossers, primarily local mental health volunteers, were supporting these families. I felt good that I was able to provide some thanks and care to them.

Can you talk more about the volunteers on the ground?

There’s a large contingent of LGBT Red Crossers who immediately said that this is personal, who have had a desire and a need to be here at this particular moment. I accompanied many of these volunteers to one of the vigils Monday night and there are going to be more every single night. There’s a feeling of camaraderie and loss and a real sense of mission at a basic humanitarian level but also a camaraderie with the LGBT community at this moment in our nation’s history. There are also a lot of Latino employees and volunteers from the Orlando area and beyond, given that most of the victims of the massacre are Latino.

red cross the center lgbt lgbtq orlando shootingThere are a lot of dynamics at play, some of these young men and women were not out to their families. There are family members realizing their child is an LGBT young person only through their death. To serve these families, Red Cross is partnering with the GLBT Center of Central Florida (The Center) where we are sending mental health volunteers. We developed co-branded signage for families who may feel more comfortable seeing the Red Cross as a traditional place to seek support at this particular moment. We are proud to volunteer with The Center and other organizations like Zebra Coalition, Equality Florida, Children’s Disaster Services and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce to serve the needs right now.

What is important for people to know about the Red Cross work in Orlando?

We at the Red Cross are striving every minute, of every day to meet unmet needs as quickly as possible. We’re doing that by offering services directly, by working with any number of incredible nonprofit and governmental partners. We are working 24/7 to make sure these survivors and families of people who were slaughtered are receiving anything they need that might help them in small and large ways in real time. In an operation like this, it’s about speed and compassion to make sure people are getting what they need, how they need it and from the appropriate person they need to receive it from.

What do you tell people who ask how they can help?

There are a number of things people can do to help at this particular time: they can give financially to one of the funds that has been set up by other organizations; they can learn first aid skills so wherever they are they would feel empowered to act; they can raise their voices in opposition to violence.

After 9/11 many people were shocked by such a terrible thing and felt the need to do something whether it was directly related to that event or just to be a person who had a stake in bettering people’s live around them. One hope I have is that all of us feel motivated to make the world a better place after this life-changing tragedy.

Anything else you want to add?

From social media, to phone calls and emails, so many people have offered words of gratitude or thanks. I really do feel humbled that when something so horrible like this happens, at a time when so many of us want to do something, I feel fortunate to be in a role where I could almost immediately start to have an impact and be productive in trying to help people in this horrible moment.

Following Sandy, 17,000 people came to New York to help. I felt compelled to do the same when called upon. Prior to leaving, I felt supported with really positive New York energy. I feel so much support and love from Red Crossers and from people outside the Red Cross in New York and I’m certainly trying to do my best. I’m channeling this energy here in Orlando.


red cross orlando shooting


A version of this post originally appeared on the Greater New York blog.

Photos courtesy of the Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter.

How This 92-Year-Old Red Cross Volunteer Helps Servicemembers

Mrs. Lina Czubas has been a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer for 60 years. She’s still serving at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at 92!

Can you out-pin Lina?

red cross volunteer walter reed
Lina began her service as a military spouse in 1956 at Fort Dix in New Jersey. As wife to an Army military police, she traveled around the world and continued her volunteer work throughout. She has held a number of volunteer positions during her career, but some of the most memorable to her were as a dental assistant, working in the pharmacy and providing patient and family support.

What Volunteering at Walter Reed Looks Like

Currently, Lina takes a shuttle from Arlington, Virginia, to Walter Reed four days a week to volunteer. As it has for years, her day begins by volunteering in the pharmacy and then continues into the Military Advanced Training Center (MATC) where she visits and offers encouragement to wounded, ill and injured and their families. Lina sits with the service members and their families and listens to see if the Red Cross can make their recovery a bit more comfortable.

Lina offers the love of a mother, a grandmother or just a shoulder to lean on.  She is an extraordinary example of how one person can make an impact on others.

Tips to Stay Strong After the Orlando Shooting

The news out of Orlando this weekend was met with shock and disbelief across the world.

While it may be tempting to stay focused on the TV or social media, it’s important to turn away from the screen now and then and connect with each other.

So how do you deal with the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando? We pulled together some tips to help cope with this tragedy, or any other traumatic situations you may encounter in life.

Actionable Steps to Cope After the Shooting in Orlando

  • red cross orlando shooting mental health tips coping stay strongLimit Media Exposure: Stay informed but limit media exposure of the events, especially for children. Children are especially vulnerable to stress reactions related to media.
  • Talk with Children: Parents should let children talk about their fears and then reassure them about their safety. Talk with them in ways that they can easily understand. Let them guide the conversation; share details only when they ask about them.
  • Listen to and Support Others: Spend more time with family and friends and offer your support. Hug one another and listen.
  • Take Care of Yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.

Monitor and Know What’s Normal

  • Nervousness: Events like this can cause feelings of uncertainty and anxiety since no one knows what could potentially happen next. Remember that it’s okay to feel nervous.
  • Stress Reactions: Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration and anxiety.
  • Watch for Stress and Get Help: Watch for signs of stress in your family, friends and children. Get help from others if needed.

To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support after the Orlando shooting, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

What happened in Orlando also emphasizes the importance of knowing what to do when an emergency occurs. Read more about how to prepare for the unexpected on redcross.org.

orlando shooting coping tips mental health

Why I Can Relax This Summer, Even with a New Baby

I’m your typical embarrassingly-cautious and overprotective first-time mom. When we visited our friend’s lake house over Memorial Day weekend I was nervous about, well… everything. I didn’t pack enough pants for myself each day because my suitcase was filled with my baby’s gear. And even so, wsummer pool safety baby infant hat sun protection bodysuite found ourselves in need of a long-sleeved, long pants UPF 50+ sun protection outfit, which was shipped directly to the vacation house. The stores in my area apparently don’t sell full body suits for babies. (Thank goodness for free two-day shipping). We had the nerdy sun hat with flaps all around to protect what the suit didn’t cover on my little red-head.

I created and *actually printed* rules for the group staying in the house. They included the “vampire rule: no direct sunlight”, and the “killjoy rule: no baby in the pool or boat.” We also had the two hands rule, because he’s doing this fun thing where he flings his head violently and suddenly backward, threatening to launch out of even your tightest grip. I digress.

Prepared with Red Cross Training

No matter how much you prepare, I am well aware something could – and probably will – go wrong. That’s why I consider my Red Cross training the most critical part of my safety plans. Just like baby sunscreen is an invisible protection my first aid/CPR/AED training, covering both adults and pediatrics, is my invisible and critical skill set.

What happens if his chubby hands snatch up those pesky little acorns and he stuffs them in his mouth before I can stop him? What happens if he has a medical emergency and we’re farther from a hospital than usual? Or what if one of our friends has scare in the pool? I can relax knowing I can quickly and confidently respond until help arrives.

Set for Summer Safety

I never want to be in an emergency situation where I can’t do something to help, because I don’t know what to do. Thankfully, the Red Cross has everything I need to prepare for mishaps this summer. In the meantime, I’m sticking my kid in what I refer to as the “baby sun cage,” throwing a fitted sheet on top (thanks for the tip, Pinterest!) and calling it a day.

infant hat summer pool safety
Check out swimming lessons, First Aid/CPR/AED courses and more on redcross.org.

A Day in the Life of a Red Cross Team Leader in Djibouti

amber red cross djibouti service to the armed forcesBy Amber O’Steen, Team Leader, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

I’ve been on site for almost four months in Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. I wanted to share a quick peek into my work with Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) so folks have an idea of what it looks like to deploy overseas with the American Red Cross. Here’s what a recent day looked like in the camp.

Morning: Red Cross Emergency Communications

I started my day with a 0530 phone call requesting information about an emergency communication message. Full disclosure, I am by no means a morning person. Never have been, never suspect I will be. However, I hopped out of bed with vigor and a sense of determination to get to the office as soon as possible. I needed to log into my case management system and get message details for the service member right away. After everything was said and done, I zombie-walked back to my room to shower and actually get ready for the day’s events.

One thing to note about our quarters: our rooms are large metal shipping containers that have been converted into bedrooms and have a tendency to get intensely hot in the East African sun. To combat this scorching heat, most rooms have the window completely covered with newspapers, cardboard, or in my case, tin foil blocking all sunlight from entering the room.

Afternoon: The Value of Volunteers

After giving a briefing to newcomers on the base, I trained a new volunteer on daily office procedures. Working with volunteers is always the highlight of my day. There is something inspiring about a volunteer who works six to seven days a week, for up to twelve hours a day, and still finds the time to volunteer for the Red Cross. This particular volunteer was very interested in organizing our office and making it more user friendly for our clients. Wahoo!

On this particular day, my new volunteer even brought a friend! More help around the office is always appreciated and welcomed. I discovered that not only was he very organized, but he had an outgoing personality to provide a warm welcome to those service members who might stop by to use our canteen.

red cross service to the armed forces djibouti cpr training

We weren’t conducting any trainings on this day, but I also wanted to introduce you to LS1 Christopher Stauffer, pictured above. Stauffer is another Red Cross volunteer I work with here at Camp Lemonnier. He’s a health and safety instructor.

Evening: Support and Farewells

Later in the day, I met with all of the helping agencies in the camp. This meeting always provides us with an excellent opportunity to support one another in morale events and resiliency for the service members.

Right after that meeting, I headed over to the officer’s club (a.k.a. The Ward Room) to send people home with a hail and farewell gathering. Even though I had only been at the camp a few months, I made some wonderful friends that I had to bid farewell. It is always bittersweet, but this is the life of an SAF member.

Camp Lemonnier djibouti red cross service to the armed forces
Learn more about our Service to the Armed Forces work on redcross.org.

Giving Back Gives Friendships

A version of this post originally appeared on Gold Country News and Notes.

red cross volunteer friendship

Jess Chairez and Marcus Heningburg met through the Red Cross. They drive the emergency response vehicle together, and have developed a friendship that both are grateful for.

For Chairez, joining the Red Cross was a way to recover after the loss of his son Joe. Joe was 24, a newly graduated police officer, with a history of helping others. He collapsed while making an arrest.

“Joe pushed kindness on everyone,” Chairez said proudly. “Red Cross gives me different platforms to work from, it keeps me active, they don’t realize that they are healing my heart.”

Chairez’s first assignment with the Red Cross, immediately after joining, was ten years ago during Hurricane Katrina. He spent four weeks in service to the victims of the largest and third strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in the U.S. at the time.

“To hand someone a meal, give them a hug and let them speak to you is helping them from one step to the next,” Chairez remembers. “I am so thankful, it is such a healing to my heart.”

Ten years later, he continues to serve the northern California’s Gold Country region in different capacities. It doesn’t matter how big or small the need is: “People need hugs, and someone to talk to. The more I help people, the better I feel inside of me. I’m trying to give back.”

For Marcus Heningburg, the Red Cross journey began in Mobile, Alabama many years ago. His family taught him early on, that if you can help, you should, and there is always some way you can help. Heningburg stood in service to his country with the U.S. Air Force, and then served in the penal system. Remembering the adage that was instilled in him early on, he joined the Red Cross. Heningburg also found was a new friend, another selfless individual, in Chairez.

Heningburg is humble and likes getting involved in preparedness events as well as disasters. He has worked in telethons, installed smoke alarms, delivered mattresses to veterans, worked as a parking lot attendant during the the California State Fair and even participated in staff events at the headquarters like potlucks and staff meetings.

“’How can I help?’ The Red Cross answers that question for me, and many of us,” smiles Marcus humbly. “Seeing someone with a smile on their face, and shaking their hands, is my reward. It’s easy. It’s so easy working with Jess, I do it as much as I can. He allows me to do as much as he does, he is always going. I try to keep up.”

Chairez adds: “You don’t have to force the guy, he wants to do it. You can see the compassion, it might be a parking lot one day, and delivering a mattress another. Marcus does it with a smile on his face and with open arms.”

Pairing up to drive the emergency response vehicle, these two enter into a partnership, that adds to each individual in ways unimaginable. The Red Cross gives them the platform in which to reflect a little bit of themselves to those who need it. Sometimes it’s a neighbor, sometimes a stranger.

You can give a hug, a meal or your time, just like these two volunteers. The Red Cross can help you serve those in your community, and it may also connect you with your long lost best friend.