Leading up to Veterans Day, we’re sharing stories of U.S. military veterans who continue their legacy of service with the American Red Cross. These veterans have made an impact on and off the battlefield and continue to do so through our mission today.
From her time as a cadet at West Point to a successful career in the Army, Elisa Basnight has always had a passion to serve others and make a positive difference through her work. That legacy continued after service as she built a career as a lawyer and transitioned to the Red Cross, serving as the Biomedical Services Senior Vice President for Supply Chain. She says her work at the Red Cross inspires her every day and that it is an honor to be a part of such an amazing group of employees and volunteers.
Hear from Elisa’s perspective on how her journey has led her to a life of serving others.
Elisa’s Story: A Passion for Helping Others
“I have always had a passion for service to others. At age 16, when our family was faced with how to pay for my upcoming private college tuition bills for programs focused on public service, a recruiter asked if I might be interested in attending a service academy. My father had served active duty in the Navy and was in the Reserves at this time. Both he and my mom thought that was a great idea to explore, and I agreed. I was accepted and received appointments to the United States Military Academy.
During my first year, also known as Plebe year, I became a blood donor. I donated because I believed I was hopefully giving the gift of life to someone. Plus, you were always hungry as a Plebe, and when you donated blood, they had such delicious snacks, and would sometimes give extras, which meant a lot to a hungry cadet. During my four years at the Academy, I explored different Army branches, including being stationed to lead a transportation company one summer in Germany, where I was licensed to drive various trucks as I believe in leading by example. Then, I served as a cadet Battalion Supply Officer and eventually branched into Army Intelligence.
When I graduated from West Point, I was doing everything to make the Army a career. Prior to arriving at my first duty assignment, I completed airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia, plus specialized intelligence training in Arizona and Washington, D.C. I then arrived at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. This was a strategic intelligence appointment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving and leading within the U.S. military delegation during periods of global conflict. Upon completion, I returned to a counterintelligence assignment in Maryland. In year four, due to sustaining a serious service-connected disability, I transitioned to the active U.S. Army Reserves and then converted to the inactive reserves, leaving service at the rank of captain.
Taking to heart Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, ‘Faith is taking the 1st step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase,’ I decided to follow my personal vision of ‘Making it Better — maximizing the potential of others.’
Using my G.I. Bill, I went to law school. Upon completion, I was the first lawyer in my family. I joined a big law firm in New York City and founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Girls Action Network, Inc. (GAN), with the mission of shattering stereotypes and expanding opportunities in STEM fields for girls and young women in underserved communities. As a lawyer, I found my ultimate love was as supply chain corporate commercial counsel. In 2013, I once again took on a role of service when appointed a presidential appointee in Washington, D.C. After I left public service, I returned to the private sector and then came to the American Red Cross.
In my current role in Biomedical Services, I am proud to be a part of an amazing team of employees and volunteers. We are a purpose-driven supply chain that brings together execution tasks and activities that support the receipt of blood products post-donation. This entails the manufacturing, testing, producing, storing, and delivering of blood products post-donation for transfusion. On average, we meet the needs of patients at about 2,500 hospitals and facilities across the country. Our team provides laboratory services for diverse customer communities and oversees the biomedical services warehouses and disaster field service centers. I come to work every day motivated to make it better and a positive difference for our customers and communities we serve, and to serve and support our supply chain team members who make our mission possible. As an Army veteran, the daughter of a Navy veteran, and a member of a family dedicated to military service, I feel personally connected through our supply chain operations to our Red Cross mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering.”
Keep following as we share more stories of military veterans who serve after their service through the Red Cross