This post was written by Elizabeth Cottle, who works for the Red Cross Alabama Central Gulf Coast region as an Apheresis Donor Recruiter as well as at blood drives. In her off time, she raises awareness about the importance of saving lives with the American Red Cross.
In the Mid-1980’s, my Dad and Uncle were stationed out to sea. They were in opposite oceans, serving our Country. During that time, my mom was in charge of our home, taking care of my sister and expecting our brother. Her in-laws have always been closer than the cliché extended family, so she called them “Mom” and “Pop” and they looked in on her as if she was always theirs. While Dad and Uncle M were away, my Grandfather, “Poppa” had a serious medical issue with his heart, and he needed medical care.
My mom wanted to contact the American Red Cross, but the doctor in charge of my Poppa’s surgery said there was no reason to contact Dad and Uncle M because it was going to be a routine procedure and everything would be alright. She was just getting hysterical. He sent her home, citing that the anxiety might cause her to go into labor. Mom knew in her heart that something wasn’t right, and she took it upon herself to contact The American Red Cross on her own. The doctor was furious when he got the phone call from The Red Cross, but he signed off on it. My family rotated out who stayed with Poppa in the hospital while Mom manned the phone, juggling calls from Lebanon and California where The Red Cross was relaying messages to and from Dad and Uncle M on ham radios and telegrams.
The time for the surgery came and when the doctors went in to try and fix Poppa’s heart, they discovered that it was so far gone there was nothing that could be done. Poppa held on until Dad’s plane touched down, and he gave his last breath.
If it wasn’t for the American Red Cross’ services to the Armed Forces helping my Mom from California and Lebanon, my family wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye properly. Because of their tireless efforts, both my Dad and Uncle were able to be brought home and lay their dad to rest.
There are so many reasons I am proud to work for the American Red Cross, and this is the primary one. We are there when people need help and compassion. I will never be able to directly thank the people who did this for us, but my heart thanks them every day.
The American Red Cross is still the only organization trusted by the government and the military to delivery Emergency Communications Services. You can call the Red Cross military Emergency Communications line 24/7 at (877) 272-7337 to get information to your deployed family member. The Red Cross can deliver news of family emergencies, births, deaths or illnesses, as well as official verification so that the commanding officer can make a decision about emergency leave. For questions, contact your local chapter.