Mike’s Veterans Day Message

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast Guard (Retired) and CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

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Mike Parks

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918 the Allies signed the armistice to end World War I.  That day, originally celebrated as Armistice Day, has evolved over the last 100 years into Veterans Day to honor the service and sacrifice of all veterans.  

This Veterans Day, as we commemorate the centennial of the end of the “war to end all wars,” (as World War I was originally known), we acknowledge it was anything but that as we also honor those brave and dedicated men and women who served in World War I, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf,  Iraq & Afghanistan, as well as those millions of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have secured our freedom during the intervening times of peace.

As we participate in parades, school assemblies, or other events honoring our veterans, please take time to reflect on those veterans that you know personally, be they family, friends, colleagues, or even acquaintances you meet in your daily activities.  Please thank them for their service—that thank you goes a long way and costs us nothing but a few seconds of our time—and it means more than you can imagine to those selfless servants. 

It’s with that gratitude in mind, I thank all of you, especially those who have worn the uniform of our country, for all you have done and continue to do to serve our nation and help support our veterans and the members of our Armed Forces.  As you know, our American Red Cross has a long and distinguished history of serving those in uniform as our genesis can be traced back to the battlefields of our Civil War.  Red Crossers have been serving men and women in the Armed Forces, and their families since our organization’s creation.  This week, we had the privilege of hosting the members of the Crossroads Division Service to the Armed Forces team here in Cleveland—just another reminder of how vitally important the American Red Cross is to the members of our military.  Thank you for recognizing and celebrating our veterans this Veterans Day!  Best regards…Mike

Spotlight on Josh Mattulat: New Executive Coordinator, Northeast Ohio Region

Former military officer reunited with CEO Mike Parks after losing his home in Texas during Hurricane Harvey

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By Brad Galvan, Red Cross volunteer

It’s apparent that retired U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Michael Parks, the current CEO of the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, agrees with U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski, who famously said, “On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.”  Staying true to this pledge, Josh Mattulat was recently hired as the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region’s executive coordinator.

Josh Mattulat spent two years as Mike’s right-hand man as military aide when both were serving our country in the Ninth  Coast Guard District headquartered in Cleveland. The district was involved in challenging missions spanning the Great Lakes, from search and rescue, to pollution control, to border security.

Following that assignment, Josh moved his family to Seattle to continue his Coast Guard career. For  three years, he led a team of more than 100 that focused on maritime safety and security.

In 2017, Josh and his wife Katherine, parents of four children, decided it was time to set down their roots and raise their children. Josh left the Coast Guard and the family moved to Galveston, Texas, where Josh launched his own business as a metal fabricator. Unfortunately, a few months later their home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Safe, but displaced and devastated, Josh and Katherine decided they needed to get out of Texas to catch their collective breaths. During a short visit at Josh’s father’s home in Idaho, Josh was job searching and saw a position with the Northeast Ohio Red Cross working under Mike. It was a great fit and he applied.  Josh and his family now live in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and he works for the Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Region. He couldn’t be happier.

“I’m surrounded by great people who add value to their communities and beyond,” Josh said.  “And words can’t express how much it means to be reunited with a personal mentor like Mike.”

When asked about being reunited with Josh, Mike said, “I’ve known Josh Mattulat for many years, and I’m so pleased he’s bringing his energy, enthusiasm and skills back to Northeast Ohio to help us meet mission each and every day.”

Josh, like other military veterans, has transferable skills that were obtained while on assignment in the service. Many military members find it tough landing a job after leaving the military, even former officers. He explains that the organizational, leadership, communication and logistical coordination traits can be applied in most organizations and employers will be very impressed with the loyalty, commitment and enthusiasm that most military veterans will display in a civilian organization. These attributes will benefit and serve his new employer well as Josh put his skills to work and dedicates his service to the Red Cross.

Mike Parks would certainly agree.

This article was edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

 

StorytellersX Event Held at Red Cross Regional HQ in Cleveland

Aimed at Strengthening Military-Civilian Relationships

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One week after Veterans Day activities were held in Cleveland, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in collaboration with Got Your 6 and local Northeast Ohio Veterans Community Task Force, held StorytellersX at the American Red Cross Regional Headquarters in Cleveland.

It offered the opportunity to several veterans to share their stories of post-military life.

The event was streamed live on Facebook, where it has been viewed nearly 800 times. the recorded version can still be seen on the Greater Cleveland Chapter Facebook page.

Adapted from Got Your 6’s national Storytellers programs — which have included a former VA Secretary, elected officials, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and educators — StorytellersX events are TEDx-type local activities featuring key Veterans connecting Veterans with their communities, all to help bridge the civilian-military divide.

“Research shows that the percentage of Americans who currently serve in the military is at its lowest point in history,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “StorytellersX will showcase the exemplary talents and experiences of some of our nation’s brightest Veterans and shift the conversation to more accurate perceptions of Veterans.

During StorytellersX, audiences will hear Veterans share how military service prepared them for civilian life and personal and professional success.

Confirmed speakers include veterans Brinton Lincoln, Danielle Krakora, Franklin Martin, and Joseph Wilgus. Additionally, we will welcome remarks from Susan Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System CEO, Michael N. Parks, USCG Rear Admiral (Ret.) and Red Cross Regional CEO, Col. Chip Tansill, Director of the Ohio Department of Veteran Services, and Scott Blackburn, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Holding this important event at Red Cross Headquarters highlights the strength of our partnership with these veterans’ groups,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces. “The Red Cross was born on the battlefield in 1881, and we continue to offer services to veterans, active members of the military, and their families.”

“The reality is that most Veterans are exceptional citizens with life experiences that few understand, VA Secretary Shulkin continued. “Veterans vote and volunteer more and serve their communities at higher rates than their civilian counterparts.”

See a photo gallery in our Flickr album here.

And view a slide show here.  It was assembled by Marine and Red Cross communications volunteer Cal Pusateri.

Additional events, updates and live video streams can be found at: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/42467/va-got-6-announce-storytellersx-events-across-nation/

 

Red Cross Volunteer Now a Member of Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

IMG_4813 (2)Brook Harless, a U. S. Army veteran from Stark County, is now a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

The Red Cross volunteer and board member was inducted, along with 19 other military veterans, as a member of  the Class of 2017 on Thursday, November 9th, just two days before Veterans Day. She is a member of the Board of Directors in the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, and volunteers as a caseworker for Service to the Armed Forces (SAF).

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“The service Brook provides to members of our military and their families is invaluable,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional SAF Director.  “She helps them connect during times of personal and family crisis.”

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Richard DeChant, Jr. sings the U.S. Coast Guard anthem during the 2017 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Also inducted, Richard DeChant, Jr. a veteran of the U. S. Coast Guard and a community partner with the Red Cross, as the Executive Director for the Veterans’ Initiative for Cuyahoga Community College.

According to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame guidelines, the Hall of Fame recognizes Ohioans who served in the military and then continued to contribute to their communities, state and nation in an exemplary manner.IMG_4876

 

Other members of the class of 2017 from Northeast Ohio include Cloyd McNaull (USAF) of Ashland County, John Evans, Sr. USAF and Army) and Holly Koester (Army) of Cuyahoga County, David Taylor (Army) of Medina County. Howard Friend (Army) of Mahoning County, Frona Liston (Navy) of Stark County, James Campbell (USAF) of Trumbull County, and Robert Hershey (Army) of Wayne County.

 

Veterans Day Message from Mike

The following is a message from CEO Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, United States Coast Guard (Ret.) for Veterans Day, 2017

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Mike Parks, RADM, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Greetings to the Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family!!   Yes indeed—winter weather has arrived in our Region—brrrrr!!!  Please be sure to review our recent blog posts on winter safety!

The past couple of years I’ve shared some historical perspectives about Veterans Day.  This year, I had the privilege of speaking to my 14-year-old daughter’s school assembly about the meaning of Veterans Day—the audience ranged from Kindergarten students to parents and teachers.

I found myself modifying my message for this multi-generational group, from defining the term “veteran”; describing the five branches of the Armed Forces; explaining that “freedom isn’t free” and that it has always required sacrifice from those who serve—as well as their families; appreciating and recognizing veterans, including actually engaging them; appropriately honoring our flag and the National Anthem; describing various training requirements; and clearing up the differences between Veterans Day (honoring those that have served), Memorial Day (honoring those that lost their lives in service of our nation), and Armed Forces Day (honoring those currently serving).

Their questions ranged from “Do you get badges in the military?”; “Who’s your boss?”; “Who founded the Coast Guard?”; to “Did you fight in World War I?”  (that last one stung a bit!).

As much as I enjoyed sharing time and some thoughts with these kids and parent/teachers—I think the video they showed at the beginning of the assembly does a tremendous job of explaining the importance of remembering our veterans—and not just on Veterans Day.  Please take two minutes to watch this clip I Fought For You.   To all of you who have served as a member of our Armed Forces—thank you for your service!  And thank you to all of you for all you do to help those in need in Northeast Ohio—each and every day!!  Semper Paratus (Coast Guard Motto—Always Ready)…Mike

Stark County Veterans Pinned for 50th Anniversary of Vietnam

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Nearly 50 years after the start of the Vietnam war, Stark County Veterans received a pin commemorating their service. Among those pinned were Dick Kincaid, a Stark and Muskingum Lakes chapter Red Cross volunteer!

The pinning ceremony was held at the Canton Civic Center during the Stark County Veterans’ Stand Down held by the SAM Center of Massillon. The Red Cross was on site to help provide information about our services for veterans and their families.

The beautiful pins were commissioned by the United States of America Vietnam War  Commemoration and are provided to Commemorative Partners for dignified public presentations to living U.S. military veterans who served during the Vietnam War period as a lasting memento of the nation’s thanks.

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There is a lot of symbolism behind each facet of the piece:

 

  • Eagle – The eagle represents courage,honor,and dedicated service to our nation. As one of the most recognizable and notable American symbols, it is emblazoned with distinction on numerous military insignia.
  • Blue Circle – The color blue matches the canton of the American Bag and signifies vigilance, perseverance,and justice. The circle shape and blue color also match the official seal of the Commemoration.
  • Laurel Wreath – A time-honored symbol representing victory, integrity, and strength.
  • Stripes – The stripes behind the eagle represent the American flag.
  • Stars – The six stars represent the six allies who served, sacrificed, and fought alongside one another: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Thailand,and the United States.
  • Message – “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You” is embossed on the back, closest to the heart of the wearer. Also, the official name of the Commemoration is included to remind each veteran that this is a national initiative,and this lapel pin is the nations’ lasting memento of thanks.

Locate upcoming commemorative events, for yourself or a loved one, visit http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/events/.

CEO’s Veterans Day Message

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Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Veterans Day Program 2015

By Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Family Members:   Yes…it’s Veterans Day and we have Red Cross members representing us in parades and festivities around the country in honor of those who have served our grateful nation.  For those of you who are veterans—thank you for your faithful service.  For those of you who have family members who are or were veterans, thank you for supporting them.  As every person who has worn the uniform of this country will attest—support from family and friends was crucial to their success.    And thank you to all the Red Crossers who support our Servicemen and Servicewomen every day of the year.

Here is a blog post that I thought you might find interesting from the Senior Vice President for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces (SAF), Koby Langley, it really gets to the heart of why we do what we do.

As we pause from our Red Cross duties to reflect on Veterans Day, I thought it fitting to share some historical thoughts with you about one of the American Red Cross’ most distinguished leaders who was also arguably one of the greatest military leaders in our nation’s history, General George C. Marshall:

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2nd Annual City of Cleveland Veterans Day Parade

“By the summer of 1949, President Truman was mulling over means of bringing Marshall back into public service as head of the American Red Cross. There were signs that Basil O’Connor, head of the American Red Cross since 1944, might soon retire. Why not, thought the President, give Marshall that job? It would associate him again with public affairs in a way that carried fewer burdens than had his previous appointments.

Basil O’Connor had been named by President Roosevelt to succeed Norman Davis as Chairman of the Red Cross when Davis died in 1944. O’Connor was very hardworking but had managed to offend and alienate some of the older Red Cross leaders. Many of the disagreements had been smothered during the war, when the Red Cross had given outstanding service to servicemen, refugees, prisoners of war, and others desolated throughout the world.

Part of the trouble came from the apparent domination of the organization in the late thirties by wealthy and socially prominent Eastern-establishment figures on the Red Cross board of governors. Active heads of chapters in other cities and regions complained that they had no voice in operations. Volunteer workers, a highly important part of the Red Cross’s activities, charged that they were not used or involved in decisions. These charges and complaints boiled down to the bitter feeling that a very few people ran the organization.

In 1946, the Red Cross made a decision to create a special committee headed by E. Roland Harriman, Averell Harriman’s brother, a partner in Brown Brothers, Harriman, and manager of the North Atlantic region of the Red Cross during the war. He and his committee members undertook to meet some of the chief complaints of others in the organization, and their proposed changes were approved by Congress and President Truman in the spring of 1947. The President of the United States was to appoint the President, and the board of governors was enlarged and rearranged to give far more representation to the chapters. Chairman O’Connor now became President.

Despite O’Connor’s efforts to stop controversy, sharp criticism persisted. By 1948, it was evident that the organization needed a leader of great stature who had not been associated with the infighting, and who could respond to the claims of all factions without prejudice. O’Connor made it plain that he was ready to step down.

Truman naturally thought of Marshall. His appeals for the European Recovery Program were of the exact kind needed by the American Red Cross. During the war he had sought public support for Red Cross drives, and his war’s-end reports praised the organization’s service to the men of the armed forces and their families. His 1948 speeches for ERP showed his effectiveness in convincing the same types of people that the Red Cross needed. Few were aware of another factor that made him so desirable as O’Connor’s successor. As Pershing’s aide in France after World War I and later in the United States, he came into contact with many Eastern- establishment figures, whose influence was still needed by the Red Cross. He was perhaps the one person who could bridge the gap between the factions…”27280817982_d96f924a01_z

“Marshall set out to eliminate friction, to fire the workers with enthusiasm, to smooth out dissension. In the early months of the year he spent as head of the Red Cross, he was on the road constantly. In the last months, the coming- of the Korean War gave added emphasis to the Blood Bank program, and to morale-building services concerned with the troops and their families, thus gaining added support for overall programs.

The number of personal trips he made surprised even him. Near the end of 1949, he wrote Queen Frederika of Greece, who had asked about his new job, that although he was at Pinehurst for the winter, he would be traveling constantly on Red Cross business from January 15 until March 7, some 20,000 miles. Since taking over in October, he had covered 9,000 miles. In fact, he said, he would be increasingly busy until he took a few days off for rest in August.”    From George C. Marshall: Statesman 1945-1959 by Forrest C. Pogue