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Red Cross Office in Afghanistan Grows to Fit their Abundant Hospitality
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By Leslie A. Smith
 
November 16, 2009

The American Red Cross office in Afghanistan is a popular place. So popular, in fact, that they were running out of room.

Members of the Air Force construct a deck on the back of the American Red Cross office at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The U.S. Army provided the lumber.
Members of the Air Force construct a deck on the back of the American Red Cross office at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The U.S. Army provided the lumber.
The team that built the deck enjoys the new space with Red Cross staff member Butch Brown (back row, far right).
The team that built the deck enjoys the new space with Red Cross staff member Butch Brown (back row, far right).

Around 200 troops come through the office at Bagram Air Base each week, taking a welcome break to savor hot coffee and cold drinks, watch some TV and open care packages from home.

The Red Cross staff at Bagram, “Team 19,” talked about how nice it would be to have a deck on the back of the office so that there would be ample room for troops stopping by. The Air Force’s 624th Civil Engineer Squadron heard this wish and said that if the Red Cross could get the materials, they would build it. The 624th (now the 755th), is based out of Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. They arrived in Afghanistan in September and are billeted around the Red Cross office.

Work on the deck began after the U.S. Army Blackhorse Regiment supplied the lumber to the engineering team, who call themselves “the Structures.” The deck was finished in late October and includes a large table and wrap-around bench seats.

To celebrate the deck’s completion, the Red Cross hosted a cookout to break in the new space. Members of the Air Force and Army joined Red Cross staff members Butch Brown, J.D. Newsom and Becky Greiner to enjoy some barbeque on a recent evening.

“This was a great example of all the branches of the military and the Red Cross station coming together to build a place that everyone in our camp can enjoy and take pride in,” said Butch Brown, Red Cross senior station manager. “Several troops told me, ‘The Red Cross is always helping us, so we wanted to help you,’” said Brown.

While the primary mission of the American Red Cross in Afghanistan is to provide verified emergency messages between deployed troops and their families back home, bolstering morale is also a big part of their work.

With the new deck, the Red Cross will be able to support more outside activities, including cookouts, game nights and other fun events for the camp that is occupied by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.

“Without a group effort, this great place of enjoyment would have never happened. Our hats go off to our men and women in uniform for the great support,” said Brown.

Read more about Red Cross support for U.S. military personnel, their families and veterans at RedCross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; 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 mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.


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