When Tony Briggs joined the U.S. Navy, he didn’t know much about the American Red Cross or the services it provides. But during his 24 years in the military, he had such powerful experiences with the organization that it inspired him to become a Red Crosser for life.
In 1991, during the Gulf War, Tony remembers being on the USS Theodore Roosevelt when he first came in contact with the Red Cross. At the time, his wife Kelly was eight months pregnant with their second child. Although he was proud to be serving his country, he couldn’t help but feel sad about not being by his wife’s side during the birth of their child.
One day he got a call from his commanding officer to come to his stateroom. He was handed a message from the Red Cross stating that Kelly had given birth to their son, Jeremy, and that they were both doing well.
“In that moment, I was absolutely over the moon,” Tony said. “It meant everything to me to find out that my wife and child were doing well. And I’ll always be thankful to the Red Cross for that message.”
His next encounter with the Red Cross took place during a Navy assignment. He had been tasked with developing film of storm damage that Hurricane Andrew had caused. When he found out that this film would be shared with the Red Cross to show the public the extent of the damage, he realized he wanted to work for the organization.
He got to do just that.
After he retired from the Navy, he started working in Red Cross blood services as a communications professional. He was in that role for 16 months before he became a communicator for the Desert to the Sea Region of the Red Cross. Now, Tony is the CEO of the Central California Region, where he supports Red Cross humanitarian efforts in a 10-county region.
“This is my dream job because every single day I get to touch the Red Cross mission,” Tony said.
Since he’s worked at the Red Cross, he’s deployed more than 12 times during natural disasters. His most memorable deployment took place during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
“I really felt like my work had the most impact during Hurricane Harvey because I got to share what the Red Cross was doing in Houston with thousands of people,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that people understood what we were doing there and how others could help.”
During each of his deployments, he’s come in contact with a fellow veteran continuing to serve the country as a Red Cross volunteer.
“No matter what branch of service you’re in, it’s a very tight knit family, just like the Red Cross,” Tony said. “The Red Cross gives people who want to serve their country another opportunity to do it, just without being in uniform.”
Today Tony is proud to share what the Red Cross is doing to help service members across the world.
“We take a holistic approach, from the time they raise their hand at the military processing station to the time they’re no longer with us,” he said. “The Red Cross is going to be there for those who have served their country and their families.
I’m proud to be affiliated with the Red Cross and the military.”
Visit redcross.org/military to read more about how we support America’s military and veteran families, and how you can make a difference as a volunteer.