Red Cross provides Fort Bragg Soldiers with home touch
Pfc. James Alway who serves as a combat medic with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division grabs food offered at the American Red Cross Canteen located in the Green Ramp on Pope Air Force Base, as he prepares to fly to Haiti to assist in the relief effort. The American Red Cross Canteen has provided Soldiers with over 2000 hot meals from donations from over 36 local food venders across Fayetteville and cots for the Soldiers to sleep on as they wait.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As Soldiers stand by to fly out of Pope Air Force Base to provide aid to the people of Haiti they are often waiting for up to 48 hours at the Green Ramp, which acts as a terminal, waiting for the next available flight. Luckily, they do not wait alone.

The American Red Cross has set up a canteen located at the Green Ramp, which has provided Soldiers with over 2000 hot meals as well as cots for Soldiers to sleep on as they wait to support the people of Haiti.

"The number one focus currently for the American Red Cross is the Haiti Relief Effort, which is the largest it has ever undergone," said Mike Russell, who serves as Executive Director with the Highlands American Red Cross. "We knew locally the best way to do that was supporting the military."

Once Soldiers are cleared medically and placed on a flight manifest they must wait at the Green Ramp, which acts as a terminal for outgoing flights, till they can board a plane.

"The Army does a great job taking care of its own but (the American Red Cross) tries to provide a home touch to show the Soldiers we support them," said Mike Russell.

"We have had an immediate outcry from volunteers to come out and help with whatever they can," said Russell, "we currently have used 65 volunteers with hundreds still available."

Volunteers have driven throughout Fayetteville to accept donations of food and drinks from over 35 local venders and work in four hour shifts were they ensure the Soldiers have everything they need to make their wait more bearable.

According to Pfc. James Alway, even though he and his unit have been waiting at the Green Ramp for over 48 hours, the American Red Cross has made all of them very comfortable with fresh food and drinks.

Alway, who serves as a combat medic with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, says the support provided by the American Red Cross has made a usually mundane process a more enjoyable one.

Making the Soldiers more at ease is what the American Red Cross aims for.

"It really means a lot to us to provide anything we can to the Soldiers," said Russell. "We like to do whatever we can to support the Soldier and let them know we care about the hard work they do."

Since it's formation in 1881, the American Red Cross has become an organization the Army has always been able to rely on to provide care and support.

"The Red Cross has provided the typical traditional support they always do," said, Col. Stephen Sicinski, who serves as the Fort Bragg garrison commander, "and it really shows the Soldiers that the community truly cares about the work they are doing."

With the support of the American Red Cross, what would normally be a mundane and uncomfortable experience, Soldiers are able to relax and focus on their upcoming deployment to help the survivors of Haiti.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16