By Keith Rhodes, American Red Cross North Texas Region CEO
Every father wants to do the best he can for his children, and we often wonder if our efforts are good enough. Today, we thank and congratulate all the fathers and father-figures who continuously put their all into their children. Your efforts are creating young men and women who will change the world.
My oldest child, Adoneus, has already started making his impact. In 2012, Adoneus made the decision to join the United States Army. After witnessing the shock and horror of 9/11 as a young boy and then watching the U.S. military response, Adoneus knew he wanted to be one of our nation’s protectors.
Despite having a family of veterans, my wife, Katina, and I were both terrified for our son’s safety. Still, we could see his excitement and knew we had to support his decision. Once he became active, we tried to hide our concern when he deployed to a hot zone, but know we weren’t always successful.
As a military father, I have a deep appreciation for the work the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) division does to ensure military members and their families have resources for deployments, reintegration to home, work or civilian life, emergency communication services and so much more. As an employee, I’ve gained a heightened awareness of their incredible work and the difference it makes for so many. Serving the military is the reason the Red Cross was founded, and that line of service continues to be an integral part of our daily operations.
Last year alone, the Red Cross provided almost 36,000 emergency communications to over 65,000 military members and their families. I mean, that’s incredible, and yet so many are unaware this assistance is available!
I believe every military family should download the Hero Care app, register their information, and learn about the free resources available through the SAF programs. Just knowing what’s available can make a world of difference. For us, it was and continues to be a comfort knowing a support network is nearby whenever we need them.
When he was growing up, I would often tell Adoneus, “Life is what you put into it.” I guess he took those words to heart because Adoneus has put everything he has into his military career and is excelling at every turn. After spending four years in Korea, Adoneus is now a private first class, nuclear and chemical specialist assigned to training other soldiers.
Despite now operating stateside, knowing the resources available through SAF workshops and the SAF partnerships with local community organizations and VA hospitals provides Adoneus, and all military members, an essential outlet for confidential and beneficial assistance.
Like the work of the Red Cross, Adoneus’ work and the training he provides other soldiers has the potential to positively affect thousands of lives, a huge responsibility neither of us takes lightly.
My wife and I also have three daughters, Jayden, Hallie and Maddison, who beam with pride when they talk about their big brother. While we aren’t certain of their future aspirations yet, we hope they continue our family legacy of making a positive impact on the world.
I tell you this story, not to brag on my children or myself, but to demonstrate how the little things we do as parents can make a big impact on our kids. They see the example we set, hear the words we speak, and with a little luck, become better people than we could have ever hoped.
Parents undoubtedly make mistakes, but the important thing is that we continue being there for our children. Tell them they’re loved, take them on adventures, show them a heart of generosity and help them develop into men and women who strive to make a difference.
So, this Father’s Day, look at your children, and be proud of the work you are doing. If they are in the military, encourage them to learn more about the Red Cross SAF programs. Focus on how your children are turning out because, believe it or not, even though we aren’t perfect, we are making a positive difference in their lives just by being there.
Happy Father’s Day, and keep up the great work!