This Veterans Day, we recognize the incredible sacrifices active-duty service members, veterans and their families make for our country. We honor them today and every day as they continue to serve once again as Red Crossers. Meet some of our incredible team members who provide hope and help to others through our mission.
First Time Volunteering
When news broke that the Red Cross was supporting Afghan evacuees at military installations, Marine veteran Brian Forristal raised his hand to help. This was the first time he volunteered with the Red Cross and deployed to the Ft. Bliss Doña Ana Range Complex in Chaparral, New Mexico. He was one of nearly 800 volunteers on U.S. military bases in the U.S. and around to globe, who were caring for evacuees.
A key part of the response was to ensure families had basic necessities like hygiene items, clothing, cribs, diapers and more. The Red Cross also helped to replace prescription medications, eyeglasses, canes, wheelchairs and other basic items that may have been left behind in the rush to evacuate. Brian volunteered only for a week but his time on base made for lasting impressions. “The experience was fulfilling in the capacity that we could help. Even during the week I was there, I felt like we were able to do some good and to make a difference.”
Since August, volunteers like Brain continue to support Afghan evacuees with health and mental health services during their temporary stay on military installations. For Brian, his most memorable moments were engaging with the children he met. “These kids are so full of life. They are making the best of a really challenging situation.”
Finding a Career Through Service
After serving in the Air Force for many years, Karen Cook now serves her country as a Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) and International Services (IS) Program Manager with the Red Cross in South Carolina. She now helps military and veteran families like herself through our mission.
As a SAF/IS Program Manager, she works alongside military and veteran volunteers and understands the difficulty of transitioning to civilian life after service. “Military members are a different breed. They’re very structured. That’s why a lot of our volunteers are either veterans or spouses. They understand what veterans or active-duty service members are going through.
She like many of our Red Cross SAF/IS employees have given their lives to serve their country and now help to serve other military and veteran families through the Red Cross.
Serving After the Military
As an Army veteran, Dr. Jan’et Bishop continues to serve her country as a volunteer. At the Red Cross, she supports our mission in many ways by speaking at local events, leading resiliency workshops for military members, veterans and their families and helping raise much-needed funds for the organization.
Her late husband was an Army veteran and so are both of her sons. Coming from a military family who have all bravely served their country, Dr. Bishop is a believer of a quote she shared, “to whom much is given much is required.” It is the way she looks at her volunteer work and the reason she gives back to her community.
By teaching resiliency workshops, Dr. Bishop is able to be there for her fellow military and veteran community, ensuring they are supported and have the resources they need through their next steps. These resiliency workshops provided by the Red Cross teach military families how to cope and overcome mental and emotional challenges as they transition into civilian life. She says, “I believe that resiliency is necessary for everyone. When we’re looking at the veteran community, even more particularly, it’s a matter of becoming empowered to be able to deal with the everyday aspects of life because life is full of stressors, it may differ in different times and experiences in our lives, but to become resilient enables you to meet those challenges, head on, address them and continue to move forward.”
Find Healing Through Service
We are grateful for our Red Crossers across the country and around the world for their time and commitment to their country and our mission. Through our humanitarian work, they have found a place to continue to serve and you can too.
Learn how you can help as a Red Cross volunteer here.