By Catherine Ross (Fort Carson)May 9, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers, Airmen and members of the community celebrated the long-standing partnership between the American Red Cross and the armed forces May 7, during an event recognizing volunteers and their service at installations across the Pikes Peak region.
Hosted by the American Red Cross on the grounds of the El Pomar Foundation's Penrose House in Colorado Springs, the evening's military ties were unmistakable as the 4th Infantry Division Brass Band Quintet provided music and a 4th Inf. Div. color guard marked the beginning of the formal portion of the evening.
Event emcee and Pikes Peak Chapter member Deborah MacSwain provided historical background, noting the Pikes Peak Chapter began its service to the armed forces in 1914 by shipping medical supplies to troops during World War I, and has served in every major conflict since.
"You and our past Red Cross volunteers have continued to provide the much needed and much appreciated services to our military and their Families," said MacSwain.
"Now we have the programs for our wounded warriors," MacSwain said. "Maybe you remember the old hospital at Fort Carson. Thousands of Red Cross volunteers walked through those wings and halls delivering crafts, books, magazines, writing letters home for the injured, being a friendly listener, planning special programs and activities -- just like most of you do today at Evans Army (Community) Hospital, the (U.S. Air Force) Academy, Peterson and Schriever (Air Force bases)."
"Much has changed, but not the deep love and dedication each of you have as a Red Cross volunteer serving our military," she said.
Following MacSwain's detailed history, volunteers and staff modeled the evolution of Red Cross uniforms, including a World War II-era uniform modeled by Jennifer Antonia, wife of 4th Inf. Div. Chief of Staff Col. Bruce Antonia.
"We've seen over the last 11 years of ground force deployment and nearly 20 years of naval and Air Force deployment into the Gulf, a substantial op temp that has caused difficulties for Families across all of our services," said retired Air Force Gen. Victor Renuart, former commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command and current armed forces national senior adviser for the Red Cross.
"And as we've seen those manifest in both recovering wounded as well as Families hit with tragedies during those deployments, the Red Cross has been on the spot to ensure that the notifications are made. But more importantly, that follow-up care case management, and focus on Family needs continues."
Medical Department Activity Commander Col. John McGrath accepted a "Partnership of Excellence" award on behalf of Evans Army Community Hospital, where Red Cross volunteers provide medical assistance in clinics.
"We could not take care of everyone at Evans hospital without the help of the volunteers," said McGrath. "They're even more important now during sequestration time, and when furloughs take place."
McGrath and Air Force Col. Timothy Ballard, commander of 10th Medical Group at the Air Force Academy, presented Chris Sheppard with the Fort Carson Station Volunteer of the Year award for his work in the EACH Behavioral Health Clinic.
"It's huge for us," Ballard said of the impact Red Cross volunteers have, noting that they contribute 900 hours per month to the Air Force Academy mission. "If it wasn't for the volunteers, we couldn't get it all done.
"Volunteers help facilitate all sorts of coordination of care," Ballard said.
Throughout the evening, dozens of volunteers were recognized for their work at Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy and Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, contributing anywhere from one year to more than 30 years as part of the Red Cross.
Emergency medical technician and Army spouse Lisa Brown was among the volunteers recognized. Brown attributes the fact that she is now an EMT to the medical assistant program the Red Cross provides for military spouses.
"It's to introduce spouses to the medical field to see if they like it," Brown said, explaining the program, which takes nearly three months to complete and is free of charge. "I recommend it to other military spouses."
The program takes place at EACH, where doctors and nurses teach classes during the first two weeks. The remaining time in the program is spent working in clinics.
Brown's husband, Staff Sgt. Jason Brown, MEDDAC, has supervised participants in the program.
"We tell them how to do IVs, oxygen therapy. We evaluate them on their skills," said Jason Brown. "It's a very good program that the Red Cross supports.
"Patients thank (the volunteers)," he said. "They work very hard."