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Red Cross Helps Military and Loved Ones Stay Connected
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Red Cross
May 21, 2009

Michelle Mays and the American Red Cross are an important link between the military personnel stationed at Camp Foster in Okinawa and their families back home in the United States.

Service members need to know they’re still connected. When they know things are okay back home, it allows them to focus on their mission, which helps keep them safe.

Michelle Mays Senior Station Manager Camp Foster, Okinawa

“The news we deliver is not always good news; quite often it’s very sad news”, said Mays, the Senior Station Manager at Camp Foster for the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program. “But by providing the information, we help the service members to better understand what is going on back home.”

Red Cross emergency communications messages often provide the knowledge needed by the command to allow the service member to return home and be with their families.

Mays, who has been with SAF for 14 years, comes from a military family and witnessed first-hand the sacrifices the men and women in the military make each day.

“Serving your country can mean being away from your family for extended periods of time,” the SAF staffer said, “Service members need to know that although they’re far away from home, they’re still connected.  When they know things are okay back home, it allows them to focus on their mission, which helps keep them safe.”

Her present assignment allows her to be involved in more than emergency communications.  “Our station (Camp Foster) has a very active health and safety program, which allows us to train people to save lives,” Mays said. “Not everyone can say they have a job that allows them to do that.”  Her office has coordinated with the Red Cross office in Kadena to establish an island-wide Disaster Action Team, which is trained and ready to respond to disasters.  There is also a great volunteer program available that includes Dental Assistant Training.

“I find it rewarding to know we're providing so many opportunities for service members and their families to become involved in their local community,” she commented.

Being far away from home is a difficulty which affects not only people in the military, but Red Cross staff too. “I’m very close to my family,” Mays said. “It’s hard not being able to pick up the phone and call them whenever it suits me.”

A person who loves to travel, Michelle described how her work for the Red Cross has taken her to places she could not otherwise have imagined going.

“I’ve traveled the world,” she reported, “I’ve been to Europe and the Far East and even had the opportunity to work with the military in the Middle East.  There are very few careers I can think of that offer you the opportunity to discover the world.”

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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