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.
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.