FORT STEWART, GA -- The American Red Cross has a new outreach program that helps provide Soldiers in the Warriors in Transition Unit and their Families the support they need.
The outreach program is a funded initiative as part of the fiscal year 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill that allocated $20 million for the American Red Cross, Service to the Armed Forces to expand its support for service members and their Families worldwide.
"It's exciting for me because in the recent past, everyone has known about our emergency communications messages, and that's why we're primarily on an installation," said Bob Lowery, American Red Cross Senior Station Manager for Fort Stewart and Eisenhower Army Community Hospital. "The new program is to support Soldiers in the WTU."
Eligibility for the Program is described as all service members assigned to military transitional units, which includes but is not limited to Army WTU, the Navy's Safe Harbor Program, the Marine Corps' Marine for life and Wounded Warrior Regiment program, Air Force's Helping Airmen Recover Together-Palace HART, The VA's Seamless Transition Program, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Centers and their immediate Family members.
"It doesn't matter if they are physically here at Fort Stewart, whether they are in a Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla. or in their home community receiving care from a civilian facility, as long as they are assigned to a WTU we can provide them with support," Lowery said.
He also stated, "The intent is to not leave anyone behind. We provide the same services here at Fort Stewart or wherever they are receiving treatment."
Services provided for Soldiers are also extended to their Family members. The ARC helps service members through other services they provide like the Casualty Travel Assistance program. This program helps Families travel bedside with or to their ill or injured Soldier or to a memorial service like the tree dedication ceremonies on Fort Stewart. Lowery said that in one incident, they helped a mother from Peru travel to her son's memorial service.
"It's not just about the American Red Cross on Fort Stewart. We try to connect to other Red Cross stations in the community to provide that additional support to service members living in those communities," Lowery said.
The Red Cross on Fort Stewart has been providing Soldiers with comfort kits while they're housed in the WTU. They first do an assessment to see what each Soldier needs then they provide these items.
"When a Soldier is just arriving to Fort Stewart, sometimes they'll arrive and just don't have those immediate necessities that they'd like, so we'll provide those. We've provided everything from water coolers to simple snacks. But the most exciting thing we've done to date is to provide electronic games like the Nintendo Wii and a couple of Sony play stations," Lowery said. "The intent is for the physical therapy folks to use those for manual dexterity purposes or anything that can promote the treatment process. It can go from spending $1 on snacks to hundreds of dollars to support these Soldiers that are in treatment. That's where we start; let's identify how we can assist. That's very much an effort on everyone's part."
The Fort Stewart Red Cross office is located in the Soldier Service Center, building 253, on the Second Floor. The office needs volunteers to assist them with not just the new program but with other programs the Red Cross provides to Soldiers and Families. For more information on how you can volunteer, call 767-2197.
"The beauty of the Red cross is that it's never about paid staff. It's got to be about volunteers. That's the one missing piece to the puzzle and hopefully we'll be getting the word out that we really do need volunteers. As for the new program, Lowery said, "It's all about making sure we touch every Soldier."