BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN
By: U.S. Army Sgt. William Begley
BAGRAM AIR FIELD - The American Red Cross was originally founded in 1881 by Clara Barton. She was inspired by the Nobel prize-winning work that was being done by Henry Dunant in founding the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Today, the Bagram Air Field Red Cross continues what Barton started by providing necessary services such as delivering emergency messages and has been comforting the American service member ever since.
The major service the Red Cross provides is the delivery of the emergency Red Cross message. When a family member is ill or has passed away the Red Cross is vital in assisting service members in getting home. Currently, the Bagram Air Field Red Cross serves as the primary hub for getting these messages to service members.
“There is only one Red Cross in all of Afghanistan so we are responsible for the entire country,” said Jana Fullmer, Bagram Air Field Red Cross team leader. “That means we are responsible for every service member, every civilian contractor and every U.S. civilian so it’s a big job.”
Fullmer, who hails from Menan, Idaho, began her eight-year career with the Red Cross by volunteering. When an opportunity for employment with the Red Cross came to her, she took it.
The most important service they provide though is the delivery of the emergency message added Fullmer.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Herman Smith, a native of LaGrange, N.C., has used the Red Cross services on two separate occasions. The Company C, 44th Signal Battalion, maintenance supervisor had his first experience after the death of his mother.
“When I was 22 my mother passed away. I didn’t have a lot of money saved up; I was just a young kid,” said Smith. “When the emergency came up the Red Cross helped out by getting the message to me and getting an Army Emergency Relief loan to buy a roundtrip plane ticket home. They were there to help me out.”
Fullmer has a very small team of three staff members. Michael Hoplight is the assistant station manager and a native of Niagara Falls, N.Y. Hoplight, a retired Army master sergeant, said that just doing his job gives him satisfaction.
“If we can help a service member to feel that things back home are taken care of so that they can drive on with the mission, then I feel good about the job I’ve done here,” said Hoplight.
The Red Cross also provides other services. Fullmer said the Red Cross is open 24 hours a day so service members can come in and enjoy the lounge which is right across the hall. There they can get a cup of hot coffee, some fresh bread or a snack, and enjoy watching a movie.
“We do events, for instance, every Wednesday Major Timmy the therapy dog comes over and troops or civilians can spend some time with him,” said Fullmer. “We also have movie nights and game nights.”
Fullmer added she and her staff do hospital visits 4 times a week over at Craig Joint Theater Hospital.
“We have been able to donate sweat suits, slippers and blankets to the wounded troops over here at Craig hospital,” Fullmer continued.
Recently, Smith had to utilize the services of the Red Cross again and was able to be there for his family after his father passed away from liver cancer.
“They got the message to me in time to get me back home to be there for my family at the funeral,” said Smith. “I would say to lend your support to the American Red Cross because they are here to help us as much as they can. You can volunteer, give blood or just send a donation.”
For more information on the American Red Cross visit their website at www.redcross.org.
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This work, Bagram Air Field Red Cross helps during tough times, by SGT William Begley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.