IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JAPAN
IWAKUNI, Japan - The American Red Cross has impacted my life more than once, three times in a six month period to be exact. With three Red Cross letters, there is one in particular that is always on my mind.
On Feb. 8, 2010 I arrived aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and stepped onto those yellow footprints leading me to a new life. One I wasn’t fully prepared for.
“The fastest way off this island is to graduate,” the drill instructors constantly yelled.
Only two weeks into training, I was called into the drill instructor’s office. The other recruits stared at me as I walked down behind the beds, making my way toward my senior drill instructor.
I could tell they were curious as to why I was being called inside the office, the stares and whispers said everything. Walking in, I looked around and saw my senior drill instructor, the company first sergeant and the chaplain standing with their heads down.
I had a feeling I wasn’t in trouble, but they were avoiding eye contact with me. That’s when the chaplain sat in front of me, looked me in the eyes and told me the news. The chaplain said my name and said, “I have some bad news. Your mother sent a Red Cross message informing us that your father has passed away.”
I looked around, I wasn’t ready to believe the information they were giving me and asked them if they were joking.
My senior drill instructor shook her head. Less than five minutes after receiving the news, it hit me. It was still unknown to me how, or when, I only knew that my father was gone. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the Red Cross message I received and how it has affected me.
One hundred and thirty years ago, on May 21, 1881, the American Red Cross was founded, making it possible for those serving in the military today to receive messages such as the ones I received during bootcamp.
According to the American Red Cross website, within the first 25 years of the Red Cross, the organization conducted the first disaster-relief efforts and gave aid to the military throughout the Spanish-American War.
The American Red Cross gives aid to U.S. military members all over the world.
According to the Red Cross website, During World War I, the Red Cross took a big leap in the military by recruiting and sending approximately 20,000 registered nurses.
The website also states that the Red Cross assists victims of major disasters, prepares packages for American and Allied prisoners-of-war as well as shipping thousands of tons of supplies to those who need it.
The Red Cross is not government funded; instead, the organization receives its money and donations from the public. The Red Cross is a way to keep in touch with news of family members back home. Not all Red Cross messages are upsetting.
While some may devastate a military member about a death of an immediate relative, Red Cross messages are also sent about good news such as the birth of a newborn baby. Imagine the good and bad memories one would have working for the Red Cross, having to deliver those messages.
Brenda Hindman, American Red Cross station manager, said that she can remember the memories.
While in Baghdad, she was informed a Marines’ grandfather had passed away. Before informing the Marine, she was informed that on the way to the hospital to see the Marine’s grandfather, both his parents were in a car accident and both parents died.
For Hindman, having to tell someone that a family member had passed away is her worst memory of delivering Red Cross messages. Yet, at the same time, she remembers informing a Marine his baby was born and gave him an opportunity to Skype his wife and newborn baby.
The Red Cross is not only used as a connection between family members, it is also used as a way to help and assist those in need. No matter the location, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers.
Throughout the next few months, several volunteer opportunities for station residents ages 14 and up are available. Volunteer opportunities for teens are the current focus of the organization here.
The teens can get a taste of what it is we do, said Hindman.
The teens are urged to volunteer 20 hours per week.
“It gives the children something to do other than sit around and get in trouble,” said Hindman. “It helps the new teens who come here learn about the station and the people here.”
The American Red Cross is also looking for adults who can be case workers or leadership volunteers.
With all the help the Red Cross has and everything its volunteers have done since the beginning, the organization still stands strong with dedicated volunteers.
To volunteer for the American Red Cross, visit Brenda Hindman at the American Red Cross office at the Marine Memorial Chapel here.
||IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JP
This work, American Red Cross, how it helps you, by PFC Cayce Nevers, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.