By Gen. Peter ChiarelliAugust 4, 2009
Remarks as delivered by
Vice Chief of Staff, Army
General Peter W. Chiarelli
Salute to the Red Cross - 100 Years of Service to Walter Reed
27 April 2009
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Beth and I are pleased to be able to help celebrate the Red Cross' one-hundred years of service to Walter Reed. And, we're honored to represent the millions of Soldiers and family members who have benefited from the outstanding care provided by the employees and volunteers of this world-class organization.
As you just heard from COL Coots and saw in that great video - America's military and the Red Cross have enjoyed a very special relationship for well over a century, both in times of peace - and, in times of war.
In particular, over the past seven-plus years, caregivers and volunteers at Walter Reed have helped immeasurably to repair, rehabilitate, and comfort our Wounded Warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. You've also provided incredible support to family members during these very, very difficult times.
The Red Cross is, perhaps, most well-known for its blood drives held around the world. Those donations have saved countless lives - including servicemen and women here in the U.S. and deployed overseas.
But, that is just a part of the many programs and services provided by this incredible organization.
Today - as in past years - Soldiers deploy with the assurance that the Red Cross will alert them immediately if - and when - any kind of emergency occurs back home.
My first experience with the Red Cross was on September 11th , 2001. I had just taken charge of the Army Operations Center two weeks prior. And, it was baptism by fire that morning as chaos erupted when the plane slammed into the side of the building. Everyone was trying to figure out what to do next.
I remember - I was in the basement where the old Army Ops Center was located - for about an hour and a half. And, when I finally emerged from behind those locked doors to go upstairs and brief GEN Keane - the Red Cross had already set up stations throughout the building.
They were busy providing supplies and food to Pentagon employees and emergency personnel. It was amazing. Those volunteers stayed there for about 10 days - 24 hours a day.
That experience demonstrated for me the great partnership that exists between America's military and the Red Cross. And, it showed how effectively we're able to come together to provide the best possible support to our men and women in uniform and their families.
That same level of commitment exists here at Walter Reed as well. Beth and I have had the opportunity to spend some time here over the last few years visiting the Wounded Warriors - to see how they're doing... to make sure they're getting the care that they need... and, to thank them - and their families - for their service and tremendous sacrifices.
Often we're accompanied by famous politicians, actors, athletes, and other celebrities. And, we all come here thinking we're going to cheer up the young men and women recovering in this hospital. But, every time - it's we - who leave inspired... and, with a renewed perspective on what life is all about.
Those of you who work here see this every day... Soldiers who've suffered debilitating injuries - and, yet show such incredible determination to overcome their injuries in order to get back to their lives - and, in some cases, the military units - they left behind. They are truly amazing.
But, what I hope each of you also realizes is what a significant influence you all have on these Soldiers - and, on their families. From the moment they arrive at this hospital, you provide them with unwavering support, tremendous comfort - and, you help them to develop an optimistic outlook on the future.
For that - and for all that you do - I am personally, deeply grateful. Thanks to all of you for your service to the Army, to the Red Cross - and to our Nation.