Serving country and community: Dave Riegler, U.S. Army veteran and Red Cross volunteer

A Veterans Day volunteer profile

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

Editor’s note: Regional CEO Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message follows this profile of a volunteer and a veteran.

On Veterans Day, we honor, celebrate, and thank all who served in the United States armed forces, and we at the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region are especially proud and thankful for the many veterans who continue to serve our communities as Red Cross volunteers. Dave Riegler, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and volunteer based at the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, is one of these extraordinary individuals.

Dave RieglerDave began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2005. While recovering from a major surgery, he saw the coverage and call for volunteers after Hurricane Katrina and knew he could help.

And his help has been extraordinary. After serving at a call center in Washington, DC following Katrina, Dave has taken on a number of critical roles and responsibilities over the last 14 years. Dave estimates he has deployed about a dozen times to major disasters and regularly assists in our region. His responsibilities include logistics, warehousing, and database operations, and he often uses his skills to locate and procure needed resources.

Dave’s assistance is greatly appreciated. Rachel Telegdy, Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, stated, “Dave is the type of volunteer that will always step in to help in any way. No matter the day or time I know I can call Dave and never worry about the job getting done. His get it done attitude is commendable and his smile is contagious!”

Dave’s military and private sector accomplishments are also exceptional. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 28 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. In addition, Dave had a 40-year career at Goodyear. He began as a machinist and, after earning his engineering degree, moved to corporate engineering. He retired from both the Army and Goodyear in 1997.

Dave is also involved with a number of veterans’ and service organizations, including the Mogadore Lions Club, VFW, a retired military officers’ group, and is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He has a busy Veterans Day and week ahead.

During the interview, Dave’s giving nature was apparent. When asked what he most enjoys about volunteering with the Red Cross, Dave replied meeting people within the organization and helping those in need. He also mentioned that, over the years, he has given blood every time he could. Helping was the major theme in our discussion.

Dave noted how the military and the Red Cross share a commitment to training. When he deploys to a disaster, for instance, the Red Cross ensures everyone has the needed skills.

And he expressed how serving helps instill a sense of personal satisfaction, as well as providing perspective and understanding. For instance, Dave mentioned that there are things in life where we may ask why we’re even bothering. While working with the Red Cross, he sees why.

Finally, Dave said he appreciates being thanked when someone learns he is a veteran. He is sure to thank fellow veterans as well. To Dave and all veterans, on behalf of all of us in the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, thank you.

 

CEO’s Veterans Day message                                                                                     By Mike Parks, American Red Cross

Memorial Day Blog

Greetings to our Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family:  Today, Veterans Day, we have the privilege to honor those members of our armed forces who have faithfully served our great nation.  I use the word “privilege” intentionally because I recently had the “privilege” to attend the funeral of the last remaining World War II Coast Guard POW in Buffalo, NY when the Coast Guard and the community honored this fallen hero whose remains were finally returned home after 77 years.  LT Thomas James Eugene “Jimmy” Crotty was the youngest of five boys and a girl born to Irish immigrants in Buffalo’s old Fifth Ward in 1912.  He also was the captain of the Coast Guard Academy’s football team, president of his graduating class, and a gifted young officer who was sent to rescue passengers off the burning liner Morro Castle and later served as a special deputy on the Bering Sea Patrol.  He was a hero of Corregidor and a survivor of the Bataan Death March.  And on July 19, 1942, Crotty, was dying of diphtheria in the squalid Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp, soon to be given last rites at the edge of a mass grave and lost to his countrymen for 77 years.  I was humbled to be in attendance as Coast Guard paid tribute to LT Jimmy Crotty and his family for their sacrifice.  It was a sobering reminder of all those men and women who have worn the uniform of this country, serving with distinction and humility, so we can all enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted.  The link below is a short clip of the service honoring LT Crotty.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lt+james+crotty+pow&qpvt=lt+james+crotty+pow&view=detail&mid=BB19DF23AE7D12EB7805BB19DF23AE7D12EB7805&&FORM=VRDGAR

 A bit closer to home, our own Cleveland Cavaliers honored service members at a recent home game.  I’ve included a clip of the moving halftime ceremony featuring our Greater Cleveland Chapter board member, Nic Barlage of the Cavs, recognizing the commitment and dedication of a service members.

https://www.nba.com/cavaliers/video/teams/cavaliers/2019/11/06/2871694/1573003408385-19-20-salute-service-halftime-2871694

Within less than a week, I was privileged (there’s that word again) to observe two moving and meaningful tributes honoring members who served in our armed forces.  I remain moved and humbled by their sacrifices and by those of so many other soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. On this Veterans Day, we all will have the opportunity and privilege, should we choose to seize upon them, to thank and honor those who have served, or are serving our nation, in uniform—please do!  To all of you reading this who have served in the armed forces—thank you for your service and for your sacrifice!  I often come across people who express their regret in having not served in the military.  I always tell them they can still serve now by supporting our military and their families in any number of ways.  November marks Military Family Appreciation Month—I would like to take a moment to thank every spouse, parent, sibling, child, and loved one who supports our men and women of the armed forces—as the above video clips confirm—families make great sacrifices as well. 

 In closing, I hope you share my sincere gratitude in serving in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that traces its roots back to supporting those on the battlefields and continues to serve our armed forces each and every day.  Stay well, stay safe, and remember to thank a veteran and their family!!  Best regards…Mike

Michael N. Parks
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

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/.