Lorie Warchol, who is normally based in Louisiana, is now one of 50 American Red Cross workers who have deployed to bases in Europe to support U.S. troops since the war in Ukraine began 6 months ago.
While on base in Eastern Europe, Lorie plays an integral role in supporting all the organizational activities for deployed troops in her region. As a Site Lead, she helps connect military families during times of crisis by delivering emergency messages from loved ones to service members in the area. In addition, a huge component of Lorie’s role is to offer a sense of home and ‘normalcy’ for troops serving overseas by providing snacks, toiletries, games, free WIFI, and most importantly, lend a comforting ear to those in need. She finds great value and connection in rising early and joining the troops for physical fitness classes in the morning, stating that connecting through morale-boosting activities like these is a great way to show support to the service members.
When her deployment ends, Lorie will be relocating to Misawa, Japan to support more U.S. troops as a Red Cross Program Specialist and Station Manager. Until then, get a glimpse of what a typical day looks like for her on base in Europe:
Note: Time is displayed in military time.
0530: Reveille, Reveille! The mornings begin early at our base. I enjoy waking up early to meet with the troops for a morning of physical fitness, also called PT. As a deployed Red Crosser, it is important, for me to embody the spirit of my job and lead by example.
0700: After PT, I head to the office and load up bags with comfort and care items, containing things like soap, shampoo, razors, deodorant and snacks. We distribute these kits to various locations across our Forward Operating Site (FOS) to ensure soldiers have the small comforts they need. Next, I head to my barracks to shower and get dressed for the day.
0800: After grabbing a quick breakfast at the Dining Facility (DFAC), I head to my office for admin time, and to check the queue for any emergency care messages. These messages ensure that service members and their families can communicate during critical emergencies. Next, I prepare for any scheduled meetings. I typically have two to three a day.
1230: The DFAC does a good job trying to offer us variety with a choice of meat and sometimes fish. There is a small salad bar and when we get lucky, fresh fruit. Yum! We are lucky at our location to have a panini maker. There is also always yogurt available and either an ice-cream sandwich or frozen strawberry shortcake bar. The coffee is always consistent…STRONG.
1300: One of my favorite parts of the day is my daily walk around the facility. This is when I get to engage with soldiers, assess morale and pick up mail for the soldiers to send home to families and friends. I take these to our post office to make sure they are sent out and collect any new mail. Receiving packages is the BEST.
1400: I’m back in the office to be available when the USO opens, and soldiers start filtering into the Red Cross office. Oftentimes, service members inquire about volunteer opportunities or work shifts that consist of helping sort care packages, develop programs, or organize fun events and programs — such as movie nights, karaoke, educational classes, fitness programs, games, and healing garden.
1500: I’m struck by the fact that being present for the soldiers and listening is a huge part of this job. We recently had an ad hoc roundtable discussion breakout with 12 soldiers, and they were so open to sharing about their lives before they enlisted, family dynamics, and why they joined the Army. It is such an amazing experience watching them connect with each other. One thing they all had in common was that they were so proud to serve, and they all felt like they had truly found a family with their fellow soldiers. As a veteran, I can fully understand this connection.
1800: Dinner is very similar to lunch. The food at the DFAC is not much to write home about. It’s pretty much, Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) cooked in bulk. However, it does the job, and we are all grateful for the efforts of the staff.
1900: After dinner, I finish up my emails or ECMs in the queue before heading to teach yoga. Tonight’s class was really wonderful. I always close the class with a mindfulness practice. We all find a comfortable position and I play ‘the daily calm’ from the calm app. Following the practice, we reflect on the day and there are usually positive comments on the mindfulness practice. One example was the message of being grateful. It’s so wonderful to provide a space for them to express their feelings and aspirations.
2030: It’s now time to head back to the room to relax, reset and speak with the family. Not many days are the same, so flexibility and patience are required. It is all about being accessible to support, encourage, and when asked, advise!
In the U.S. and across the globe, the Red Cross supports U.S. service members, veterans and their families through emergency communications, resiliency workshops, available resources, financial assistance and more. To learn more about our mission work on military bases, hospitals and in the community, click here.