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 Community Veteran Engagement Boards, 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.

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/.

Holidays for Heroes Program Getting Ready to Launch in NEO

Annual Program Helps Cheer Men and Women Serving in the Military

By: Jessica Tischler, Service to the Armed Forces Manager

We have begun collecting cards for our annual program – Holidays for Heroes. As with last year, we are looking for more generalized cards that can be used throughout the year.  These cards will be delivered to service members, veterans and their families in Northeast Ohio.

We are asking that you provide a couple of cards with thoughtful, heartfelt messages instead of large numbers with only a signature.

This year, we are partnering with the Troop and Family Assistance Center to collect items that are needed by service members in Northeast Ohio.  A donation of these small items with a note of appreciate will be welcomed by those serving us here in Northeast Ohio.

  • Toilet paper
  • Dish soap
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Kleenex
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Canned meat
  • Canned fruit
  • Pastas
  • Breakfast foods
  • Coffee
  • Drink Mix

Each of the five chapters in Northeast Ohio are collecting the items and cards for local distribution to service members, their families, and veterans through military units, area VA service locations, VFWs, and other military organizations. Through this program, cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

A few rules:

  • The Red Cross does not provide cards to sign. Instead, please feel free to make cards or use any favorites that you have on hand.
  • In order to make cards as meaningful as possible for a wide audience, we recommend that you use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member,/Veteran/ Military Family Member” when writing the cards.
  • Please, no personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses
  • Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and the glitter could aggravate existing health issues.
  • Please do not seal in individual envelopes. It is easier for our volunteers to screen and sort the cards if they aren’t individually sealed in envelopes.
  • Individual cards can be dropped off or mailed to the Red Cross chapters in a large envelope or mailing box.
  • We ask that people not enclose any items with the holiday cards. Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed, including photos and other gifts. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.
  • Chapters cannot accept cards after November 30– we still need time for our volunteers to sort and deliver!

You can mail cards, or drop cards and items off (between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.) to the following locations:

Greater Cleveland Chapter
3747 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter
244 West South Street
Wooster, OH 44691

Elyria Office
2929 West River Rd. N.
Elyria, OH 44035

Mansfield Office
39 N. Park Street
Mansfield, OH 44902

 Lake to River Chapter
3530 Belmont Avenue
Suite 7
Youngstown, OH 44505

Stark County & Muskingum Lakes Chapter
408 9th Street, SW
Canton, OH 44707

Muskingum Lakes Office
734 Fair Ave NW
New Philadelphia, OH 44663 

Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter
501 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44303

How can you get involved in the Holiday Mail program beyond mailing a card?

Word of Mouth: Host a card signing party as part of your Thanksgiving Celebration!

Social Media: Connect with fellow card senders through social media channels and help us get the word out through Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #holidaymail.

Help Sort and Deliver Cards: If you are interested in helping sort and deliver cards, please contact Jessica Tischler at 216-426-7525 to see how you can help.

Dedication for a Donut Dollie

Stretch of Ohio Highway Named for Vietnam-era Volunteer

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The Virginia E. “Ginny” Kirsch Memorial Highway is being dedicated on Sunday July 30, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. in Brookfield, Ohio.  Ginny was in Vietnam, serving as an American Red Cross “Donut Dollie” when she was murdered in her quarters at the 25th U.S. Infantry Division base camp in Cu Chi, Vietnam on August 16, 1970.

“Donut Dollies” were young women with college degrees who volunteered to serve their country by going to Vietnam to operate Red Cross Recreation Centers, and to help boost morale by staging audience-participation games for U. S. troops.  The military asked the Red Cross to provide this service.  Volunteers like Ginny wanted to do something important, to make a difference in the world.

State Senator Sean O’Brien recently introduced an amendment to rename State Route 7 in Trumbull County between State Route 82 and State Route 62 the “Virginia E. ‘Ginny’ Kirsch Memorial Highway.”

“The sacrifices made by Americans during wartime come in all shapes and sizes,” O’Brien said.  “Looking at her sacrifice, we knew something had to be done for her.”

Governor John Kasich signed the bill on March 31, 2017.

Ginny’s six siblings plan to attend the dedication ceremony at the Brookfield Village Green.  Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter has been invited to speak.  Several other Red Cross representatives plan to attend, and volunteers will hand out water from a Red Cross emergency response vehicle.

Red Cross workers continue to provide critical services with a caring touch to men and women in all branches of the United States military, active duty personnel, reservists and members of the National Guard, and their families, both here and abroad.  Learn more about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces here.

 

Partnership with VA, Vets Groups Makes 100+ Homes Safer

The heat couldn’t keep the Red Cross and some of its partners from installing smoke alarms throughout Northeast Ohio on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The high temperature topped out at 93 degrees, as volunteers from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System and members of several veterans groups helped install nearly 300 smoke alarms in homes in four separate cities simultaneously.  The Operation Save-A-Life event was scheduled to occur during the same week as Flag Day, an observance that is held with reverence among many members of the military and veterans.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

Homeowners in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma received home fire safety information as well as smoke alarms, installed at no cost to them.

“It was an extremely hot day, but through your hard work and commitment to your communities, we were able to make 103 homes in Northeast Ohio safer by installing 297 smoke alarms,” wrote Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, in a message to the volunteers.

“I can’t get over it, this is such a nice thing you all are doing,” said Sara Janasik of Parma, as smoke alarms were being installed in her Monmouth Road home.

The Flag Day event preceded another big push to prevent home fire deaths this fall. Sound the Alarm, a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event will take place across the country, including Northeast Ohio during the weekends of September 23, September 30, October 7 and October 14, 2017.  If you’d like to help us make homes safer, become a Red Cross volunteer.  Call 216-431-3328 for more information about Sound the Alarm and all of the volunteer opportunities the Red Cross offers.

You can also help people affected by disasters like home fires by making a donation to support Red Cross disaster relief online.  Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.  Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.