Veterans Showered with Baby Gifts

The Tiffany Circle, VA Partner for Baby Shower 

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They faced the prospects of enemy fire, foxholes and being far from home while serving in our nation’s military.   And now they are facing one of the most daunting challenges in life…MOTHERHOOD.

14 women veterans from Northeast Ohio came together on Saturday, May 19, 2018 after being invited to a baby shower for female veterans served by the Northeast Ohio Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.  The shower was supported by the Tiffany Circle, a community of women leaders and philanthropists who advance the Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure by engaging women locally, nationally, and internationally.

“It was touching for me, as a Tiffany Circle and Greater Cleveland Board member, to honor the women veterans who served our country,” said Donna Rae Smith, long time Red Cross and military supporter. “These are special women who have the courage and disciple to be both mothers and members of our military.”

The mommies-to-be were treated to lunch and a basket full of baby supplies.  Many were accompanied by family members, including young children.  Visit our photo album on Flickr.

Photo credit:  Jessica Tischler/American Red Cross

“The Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System is grateful to the Greater Cleveland Red Cross Chapter and its Tiffany Circle women for their extraordinary generosity and compassion in hosting a baby shower for more than a dozen of our female veterans,” said Sue Fuehrer, Director of the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System.  “These women served with excellence and honor and providing a laundry basket full of goodies for them and their newborn was a wonderful way to thank them for their service to our country.”

The Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton more than 130 years ago, after she nursed, comforted and cooked for wounded soldiers during the Civil War, earning the nickname the “Angel of the Battlefield.”   Today, the Red Cross continues to serve our military men and women, veterans and their families through Service to the Armed Forces (SAF.)  There are many opportunities for volunteers to serve as well.  Visit redcross.org/neo for information about Service to the Armed Forces and volunteering.

 

 

Mike’s Memorial Day Message

By Mike Parks, RADM, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region

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Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family:  This weekend we will commemorate Memorial Day—the last official observance during Military Appreciation Month.  Six days ago we observed Armed Forces Day (May 19th) when we recognized all those who have, or are serving, in our Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard).   This day of commemoration began in 1949 when President Truman proclaimed it would be observed on the third Saturday in May.

We also recognize military spouses’ incredible impact to our lives and communities during this month on Military Spouse Appreciation Day which is observed on the Friday in May right before Mother’s Day ever since President Reagan proclaimed it so in 1984.

As we prepare to recognize Memorial Day, which is often associated with the unofficial start of summer (especially for boaters and anglers on the shores of Lake Erie), we should remember that Memorial Day honors those almost 1.2 million servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our great nation.  The last Monday in May is set aside for our nation to Honor, Remember, and Never Forget the fallen and their sacrifice.

So as we put burgers on the BBQ in our backyards this weekend, take in some baseball, basketball, or boating, let us not forget why we have this long weekend.  We’re fortunate to live in a part of the country where small town Memorial Day parades are everywhere—please take one in—stand and place your hand over your heart when “Old Glory” passes by—thank a veteran for their service—simply put, remember and honor the sacrifice that has paid, and continues to pay, for our freedom!  As members of the American Red Cross—we’re privileged to serve in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that has a long history of serving our Armed Forces of this world’s greatest nation—an organization that has it’s very roots in the battlefield.  Thank you for what you do and for Honoring, Remembering, and Never Forgetting!  God bless the United States of America.

Yours in service,
Mike Parks.

Military Dad Honors Military Children

April is Month of the Military Child

By Jorge Martinez, Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region
Commander, United States Coast Guard (Retired)

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Jorge Martinez

Military members past and present are routinely honored throughout any given year in many ways, and rightfully so.  As a retired military officer, I can say that I feel more than adequately recognized for my service to our wonderful country.  Truth be told and as any member will tell you – it’s not why we serve.  And while not necessary it is appreciated.  However, it is not the individual that serves, but rather the family.  And most members will tell you that the service member has the easy job.

That was certainly true for me.

I would deploy for months on end carrying out the king’s work with people I loved and trusted while my family stayed back and did their valiant best to go on with life as normal — though always worrying but not showing it.  They too were serving honorably but doing so silently in the shadows.

I would get painful glimpses from time to time.

I remember one particular instance nearly 10 years ago when I was putting my then 6-year old son, Ben, on the school bus before heading out to sea myself for nearly 5 months.  He was the last of my two sons to head out that morning; my infant daughter was still asleep in her crib.

Ben was and is a very stoic kid.  Though we were very close, he never showed his emotion and I know he never wanted to disappoint me.  I hugged him when I put him on the bus and told him I loved him.  He sat in a window seat… and gave me a look that I will never forget.  It was a “you’re leaving me again, Dad” type of look and it cut right through me.  As soon as the bus pulled away, I hugged my wife and we both started to cry.  This was not an isolated incident.

Military families and their selfless service to our nation are all too often overlooked, especially the children’s service and sacrifice.  They go about their days like any other kid would and typically without complaint about a parent being gone for long periods of time.  They keep it together most of the time.  They didn’t ask for this, but deal with it they must and do.  It’s hard and it’s thankless… but it’s necessary.

Military children are my heroes!  They have a wonderful purpose and possess such quiet strength.  After retirement, I’ve been able to reflect on them and their journey of service and it’s an inspiring one to me.  Throughout my career, I have been blessed to be part of many great teams that have accomplished much.  But my greatest accomplishment (really my wife’s) is seeing my children grow up and be better than I ever could have been at their stage of life.

Our country’s military children have been inspiring and helping our military members for as long as we’ve been a country.  Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude.  If you agree, next time you see a military family thank them all… especially the children.  They’ve earned it.

The American Red Cross supports our nation’s military members, veterans, and their families through Service to the Armed Forces.  Learn more here.

Volunteer Profile: Jeanette Petrick

Greater Cleveland Chapter Volunteer is Passionate About Helping Members of the Military, Veterans and Their Families

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I always knew I’d do volunteer work with the military when I retired from nursing, so I contacted the Red Cross and they put me in just the right place,” says Jeanette Petrick of Strongsville.

Jeannette Petrick

Jeanette thrives on what she calls the “human contact” that she experienced as an acute care nurse and now as a volunteer for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

“I do casework, calling to follow up with families that have had emergency communications (through the Red Cross) with family members on deployment,” she says. “Usually that’s in connection with a death, or maybe an illness; sometimes it’s something nice, like a birth in the family.

“We check to be sure the communications went smoothly, but then as I talk with them, I might find out they need other services – like financial help to get their service member home for a funeral – and we can point them to other resources, either through the Red Cross or military support organizations or their communities.”

Jeanette’s compassion is obvious as she recounts the story of a young Navy wife who is pregnant while her husband is deployed on a ship. “She hasn’t seen him all that much in the last two years,” she says. “It reminds you just how much military families really do sacrifice.”

For Jeanette, supporting our men and women in uniform is more than a professional or even a humanitarian issue: It’s personal. Her father served in the Navy during World War II, she had brothers and cousins in the armed forces during the Vietnam era and her only son is now in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

“I love my country,” she says, “and I love that I can help people through the Red Cross.”

In Northeast Ohio, 62 volunteers like Jeanette are the manpower of the Service to the Armed Forces, according to their volunteer leader, Sharon Nicastro. In addition to active duty military, SAF serves veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard and their families.

If you’d like to fit into this vital volunteer role, or explore the many other volunteer opportunities within the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/neo, and click the volunteer tab, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

 

 

Baby Shower Planned for Women Veterans

Anyone Can Contribute a Gift for the Babies of NEO Veterans

By Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The Tiffany Circle is helping veterans from Northeast Ohio start the circle of life for their yet-to-be-born babies.

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Laurie Laidlaw Deacon, Chair of the Tiffany Circle in Northeast Ohio, speaking in a suite at Quicken Loans Arena

The Tiffany Circle, a community of women leaders and philanthropists who advance the  Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure, is hosting a baby shower for female veterans who are currently being served by the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System.  Some 50 veteran moms-to-be will receive the gifts purchased through a special account on Amazon.

“We are proud to provide this service to brave women veterans in our area,” said Laurie Laidlaw Deacon, Chair of the Tiffany Circle in the Northeast Ohio Region.  “And we appreciate our partnership with the Veteran’s Administration Healthcare System, for helping us identify the women who served our country, and who will soon be caring for a newborn.”

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Sue Fuehrer, CEO of the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross

Sue Fuehrer, CEO, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, said “We at VA are grateful to the Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region, for hosting the Tiffany Circle Baby Shower to support our women veterans and their newborns.  Our local Red Cross is always there for our veterans and their families in so many ways, and VA is thankful for their strong support on behalf of our nation’s heroes.”

The baby shower will take place at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center on May 19th.  Tiffany Circle member Donna Rae Smith, a member of the Greater Cleveland Board of Directors, and veteran Danielle Krakora of the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System promoted the baby shower on WKYC’s Lakeside Today broadcast on Thursday, May 9.   

Members of the Northeast Ohio Tiffany Circle kicked-off the event at Quicken Loans Arena on Monday, March 19, when they gathered to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Northeast Ohio Region Tiffany Circle members Laurie Laidlaw Deacon, Rosemarie Hoover, Kathy Coleman, Donna Rae Smith, and Luci Schey Spring.  Photo credit: Jessica Tischler/American Red Cross

The Cavs won, 124-117.

Tiffany Circle members pledged to help local veterans win, too, by supporting the baby shower. If you’d like to buy a gift for the baby shower for expecting veterans, shop here.

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.