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Red Cross Provides ‘Family Touch’ to Veterans
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Arindam Mukherjee
 
November 8, 2007

An American Red Cross volunteer takes notes while assisting a soldier at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.
An American Red Cross volunteer takes notes while assisting a soldier at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)
Veterans Day is a time to remember those who have served in our nation’s military, including Red Cross volunteers who have worked alongside our troops since 1898. As Americans honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces, the work of the Red Cross to support them will be honored as well.

Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) staff deploy with U.S. troops and provide vital emergency communication links between soldiers and their loved ones far away. But even when active duty personnel return home, the Red Cross is still there, offering counseling services, financial assistance and lasting support to veterans.

Henrietta Siodlowski, who was honored by the American Red Cross as the Female Volunteer of the Year in 2006, has been serving U.S. veterans since World War II. She greets them every day at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital in Lyons, N.J.

“We need more volunteers to serve the veterans,” says Henrietta Siodlowski, American Red Cross Female Volunteer of the Year in 2006.
“We need more volunteers to serve the veterans,” says Henrietta Siodlowski, American Red Cross Female Volunteer of the Year in 2006.
(Photo Courtesy: Henrietta Siodlowski)

“They are such a good bunch,” says Siodlowski. “But they need help. They need help in pushing their wheel chairs; some need assistance with their refreshments; many have amputations; and some just can’t be left alone. We have a lot of patients and we need more volunteers.”

More than 2,000 Red Cross volunteers like Siodlowski provide assistance to veterans in 172 VA medical centers nationwide. Chartered by Congress in 1946, the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program of the American Red Cross is the largest volunteer program in the federal government today. Since the founding of the VAVS, Red Cross volunteers have donated more than 639 million hours of service in VA medical centers.

This unique volunteer presence is critical for veterans, many of whom have no living family members. As the Veterans Health Administration has expanded its care of veterans, more VAVS workers have become involved. These volunteers provide a “family touch,” assisting veterans in nursing homes, end-of-life care programs, foster care and veterans outreach centers.

For more information about Red Cross services to the military, contact your local chapter or station.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.


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