• Nita Freeman, in foreground, and Lonna Martinez, staff at the new American Red Cross office that officially opened Jan. 31, cut the cake following the ribbon cutting ceremony. Both women are Army spouses and will be running the office located inside the Army Community Services building on Smith Street.

    Nita Freeman, in foreground, and Lonna...

    Nita Freeman, in foreground, and Lonna Martinez, staff at the new American Red Cross office that officially opened Jan. 31, cut the cake following the ribbon cutting ceremony. Both women are Army spouses and will be running the office located inside...

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Fort Huachuca?'s Army Community Services building, Jan. 31, to celebrate the grand opening of the new American Red Cross Southern Arizona Chapter office, specializing in military assistance.

The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, or SAF, network, assists service members and their Families with unforeseen hardships and coping with the military life, for those living in the Southern Arizona area.

?"Today?'s ribbon cutting ceremony represents another step forward in the great partnership that we, Fort Huachuca and the ACS, have had with the Red Cross," said Dennis Maruska, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Fort Huachuca, as he opened the ceremony. ?"Finally being able to co-locate the local Red Cross staff within our ACS will definitely enhance the services and support we can provide to our Soldiers and Families."

While many people worked to make this event successful, Maruska recognized those who took the lead for the event. ?"I would like to especially thank two individuals -- Mr. Russ Carey at the ACS for carving out an office space within our area here at the ACS, and Ms. Mary Laughbaum for her efforts in helping us in finalizing the MOA (Memorandum of Agreement)," he said.

Mary Laughbaum, director, Service to the Armed Forces and Veterans, spoke at the event, touching on the history of the American Red Cross and its origination.

?"The American Red Cross as an organization developed from one woman?'s desire to serve her country in uniform. When that was not possible for her to don that uniform during the Civil War, she, Clara Barton, as a driven, passionate and a woman with a heart of service, started a grass roots effort to support Soldiers from both sides of that conflict, and continued humanitarian support afterwards into peacetime," Laughbaum explained. ?"Since then, the American Red Cross has been supporting service members, veterans, and their Families through every conflict in our nation?'s history, as well as during peacetime."

The SAF?'s mission statement is to provide humanitarian support to service members, veterans and their Families around the clock, around the globe, under a trusted symbol.
In doing so, SAF provides assistance with blood services, disaster relief, emergency response, reuniting international refugees with Family members, sending emergency messages, public health and safety classes, and much more.

?"We will be a force multiplier for the Army Community Services and as well with MEDDAC (Medical Activity) as we help recruit, train and place volunteers on the post from our own military, veteran and Family member?'s community," said Laughbaum.

?"For veterans, we can assist with veteran?'s benefit claims, having served scores of individuals transitioning out of the military, as well as those who also served long ago," continued Laughbaum. ?"We have a robust homeless prevention and rapid re-housing program for low-income veterans. To date, [that program] has helped over 300 veterans, not including their Family members."

Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander and guest speaker, explained the benefits of the new Red Cross office on the post.

?"Here at Fort Huachuca one of our great touch points to the people we serve is ACS and now we can bring in the Red Cross to support that as well," he said. ?"We pride ourselves with our partnerships within the community -- local, state and federal.

?"I can go into many stories but everybody knows at least one story where the Red Cross showed up when others didn?'t. They?'re the Civilian uniformed personnel that connect us when times are hard and as a member of the military, I certainly appreciate that."

While most regions have one or two volunteers or paid staff, the Southern Arizona Chapter region holds 12 full-time, paid staff and 22 AmeriCorps staff.

?"Our SAF staff is driven, they have a passion for the mission, and a heart for service. We are honored and proud to be here today on Fort Huachuca, and we are looking forward to serving alongside all of you into the long future of this historic base," Laughbaum said.

Concluding the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, McFarland, Laughbaum and Richard White, American Red Cross regional director, cut the ribbon signifying the official opening of the office.

The new office is located inside Army Community Services on Smith St., Building 50010 and is open Monday -- Friday, 9 a.m. -- 2 p.m. For more information, call 533.6870 or 1.520.260.7913.

Page last updated Thu February 6th, 2014 at 00:00