Red Cross volunteer who provided service in Vietnam War among those to be honored this weekend in nation’s capital

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Summit, Portage, Medina Chapter board of directors member. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Jackie Otte is the Regional Volunteer Lead for the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services team and has been a Red Cross volunteer for the last 26 years. That in itself is significant; but it is just one aspect of her commitment to the organization.

1883jo Jackie Christmas Card 1968 copyIn the late 1960s, Jackie served with the Red Cross in Vietnam. She explained, “There were two national Red Cross programs serving the military during the Vietnam War: SMI, Service to Military Installations, and SMH, Service to Military Hospitals.”  Jackie served in both areas doing casework and recreational therapy.

“When I received orders for Vietnam in the spring of 1968, the patients I worked with told me not to go— that I would forever be affected. However, I was an idealist and did not turn down orders.”  She was assigned to the 2nd Surgical Hospital in Chu Lai, about 50 miles south of DaNang.

This weekend, her contribution for those years and many more will be recognized at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington, D.C., with a Legacy Award. This award recognizes Red Cross staff and volunteers, like Jackie, who have served side-by-side with members of the United States armed forces in combat zones.

After her service in Vietnam, Jackie was stationed in Germany. “I am the daughter of a veteran and my service in military hospitals has given me a life-long desire to give back to our military personnel and veterans. I am still working part-time as a social worker in a hospice program,” she said. Jackie is very involved with We Honor Veterans, the national hospice organization that recognizes vets at end-of–life and trains staff on end-of-life issues faced by combat vets.

Jackie, who is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, comes from a Red Cross family. Her father, a World War II vet, served the Red Cross as a board member at both the local and national levels until his death. Jackie learned while planning his funeral that her dad used to read her letters from Vietnam at Red Cross board meetings. While in Washington this weekend for Veterans Day-related events, she’ll stay with her nephew, who is a former Red Cross employee, and his wife, a current Red Cross employee. Red Cross roots spread wide in her family.JackieOtte2

Jackie also plans to visit the Vietnam Veterans Women’s Memorial on its 25th anniversary. “I was the Ohio volunteer coordinator for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial,” explained Jackie. “I made a lot of appearances to educate others about the memorial and raise funds to build it.”

Jackie said she is looking forward to seeing old friends, both from the Red Cross and military. “It has been 50 years since we were there and we aren’t getting any younger. Many may not be with us in the near future.”

The Red Cross legacy of service to members of the military began when founder Clara Barton provided comfort on the battlefields during the Civil War. Since then, American Red Cross staff and volunteers have served in every major military combat or conflict operation around the world. They are among a select group who have proudly worn the Red Cross emblem to provide care and comfort to members of the United States armed forces, their families and our veterans. And Jackie is a member of that select group who will be honored this weekend.

In Jackie’s words, “These ceremonies are always moving for all involved. It will be an honor to take part in a ceremony like this for recognition for combat Red Cross staff.”

Congratulations, Jackie, and thank you for your years of dedication and service to the Red Cross, our military and our veterans.

You are a true hero.

Veterans Showered with Baby Gifts

The Tiffany Circle, VA Partner for Baby Shower 

IMG_5922

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.

 

 

VA, Veterans to Help Red Cross Make Homes Safer

Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event to Take Place in Honor of Flag Day

IMG_3850

Homes in four Northeast Ohio cities will be made safer on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  That’s when the Red Cross, employees from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and various veterans groups will fan out in neighborhoods in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma to provide residents with home fire safety information and to install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.

“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.

“This partnership with the VA and various veterans’ groups is an effort to provide continuing service to our communities,” said Jessica Tischler, Red Cross Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces.  “We intentionally planned it in honor of Flag Day, to focus on our military and veteran connected communities.”

Brinton Lincoln, a military veteran and member of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors, said, “The American Red Cross does so very much to support active military members, veterans and their families.  It is a true privilege for those of who have served within the armed forces, to give back to the Red Cross by sponsoring and partaking in this event.”

Homes to benefit by this home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event are located in areas near 4 Northeast Ohio VA facilities:

  • Akron: 55 W. Waterloo, Akron, OH 44319-1116
  • Canton: 733 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702-1018
  • Mansfield: 1025 South Trimble Rd., Mansfield, OH 44906
  • Parma: 8787 Brookpark Road, Parma, OH 44129

The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 250 lives as part of the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries. The long-term goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

More than 15,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio homes by the Red Cross and its partners since July 1, 2016.  Local residents can get more information about smoke alarm installations through the by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neoosal.

 

Tiny Hands, Huge Hearts Help Heroes Celebrate Holidays

Caring Cubs Make Cards for Red Cross Military Mail Campaign

From the hands of babes.  Members of the Armed Forces will receive some holiday cheer this year thanks to the artistic abilities…and the service-oriented parents…of the children of Caring Cubs.

Dozens of families gathered on Saturday, November 7th in the Main Gallery of Cuyahoga Community College West in Parma, prepared to decorate holiday cards with pictures and messages to military men and women who will be away from home for the holidays.

“This is a perfect project for the children to engage in hands-on community service,” said Kelly Rudloff, a Caring Cubs Board Member.  “They like to color and draw, so they are doing an activity they enjoy while at the same time helping the Red Cross bring some holiday joy to members of the military.”

More than 375 cards were decorated by the Caring Cubs for U. S. service members.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Caring Cubs was formed six years ago by parents who wanted to teach their children about philanthropy and service at a young age, by engaging them with age-appropriate activities.  Children as young as two years old are invited to be Caring Cubs.  Monthly events are held, with the aim to teach the children lessons on social responsibility.

The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. “We invite the public to send cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our Armed Forces, veterans and military families,” said Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to Armed Forces for the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region.  “Many of our service men and women will be separated from their loved ones this holiday season.  These cards will help brighten their holidays.”

Holiday Mail for Heroes is just one way the Red Cross honors and serves the military. Our unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army.  We provide three types of assistance beginning on the first day of enlistment: Emergency Services, Service to Military Families and Service to Military and Veterans Hospitals, including the Louis B. Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland.

If you would like to “Give Something That Means Something” for the holidays, you have until November 30 to create your cards for members of the military and get them to your local Red Cross office for distribution.  Click here for more information.

How can you send Holiday Mail for Heroes, this year?

Our annual Holiday Mail for Heroes program provides cards of thanks and support to the members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

This year the program will operate a little differently. In previous years, participants and local chapters sent cards to a central P.O. Box.

This year, cards should be sent directly to our local chapters. Participating Red Cross chapters will determine how to best distribute cards to service members, veterans and family members in their local communities, across the nation and around the world. Cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

In Northeast Ohio, you can mail or drop cards off at the following locations:

Stark & Muskingum Lakes
Muskingum Lakes Office
1451 4th St. NW
New Philadelphia , OH 44663
Drop off Deadline: December 5

Greater Cleveland
3747 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
Drop off Deadline: December 5

Lake Erie/Heartland
Wooster Office
244 West South Street
Wooster, OH 44691
Drop off Deadline: December 1

Lake Erie/Heartland
Elyria Office
2929 West River Rd. N.
Elyria , OH 44035
Drop off Deadline: December 1
**We are hosting a signing at Light Up Lorain on 11/29 and community members can bring cards there, too. Just look for Red Cross table!

Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties
501 West Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
Drop off Deadline: December 5

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. 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.

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.

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 Pat Buckhold at buckhold@redcross.org or 216-431-3370 to see how you can help.