News: Red Cross volunteers serve Soldiers in need
Story by Spc. Cody Thompson
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The struggles of life can be arduous and trying for patients at Womack Army Medical Hospital in Fort Bragg, N.C. Basic items like toiletries and newspapers are given out every day by American Red Cross volunteers, who offer numerous services in an attempt to bring joy and comfort to those in need.
“There are 350 active adult American Red Cross volunteers on post,” said Jessica Tuttle, the chairman of volunteers for the ARC. “They gave close to 400,000 hours on post last year.”
One such volunteer was serving in Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division when an injury sent him to WAMH’s Warrior’s Transition Battalion.
“On October 2009, we were out on patrol and an [improvised explosive device] blew up and injured both of my legs, ,” said Spc. Jesse Clingenpell, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
“Everyday lying in the hospital a Red Cross volunteer would bring me clothes, because I had none, magazines and other basic necessities”, added the Purple Heart recipient and Roanoke, Va., native.
A few months later, Clingenpell volunteered with the ARC as an applications counselor.
“Being able to give back to them feels great,” said Cligenpell. “After my time in the service is over I would still like to continue volunteering with the Red Cross.”
Another volunteer who has continued his service with the ARC for three years after retiring finds pleasure in the little things.
“I moved here in June three-years-ago, built our new home, and then needed something to do,” said Max Powell, an ARC volunteer and Warrior’s Transition Unit outreach chair. “My neighbor, a retired Army colonel, told me about the American Red Cross and so I checked it out. I worked my way up the ladder and now provide oversight for the different services within the Red Cross.
“Sometimes it’s like trying to squeeze ten gallons of water out of a five gallon bucket,” added Powell. "Although every now and then I still pick up a cart full of newspapers, books, magazines, refreshments and other personal items and make sure the Soldiers get what they need.”
“Our volunteers are amazing,” said Tuttle. “From ages 12 to 92, they come in here, fill out applications, and attend an orientation. The number of space is unlimited. A lot of volunteers have left and a lot more are needed. The American Red Cross gives back and has mirrored the values most of us cherish.”