By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)March 15, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Amidst cannon fire, shooting and carnage, Clarissa Harlowe Barton was on the battlefield, tending to the wounded and comforting the dying.
Barton, also known as Clara Barton, began supporting soldiers of the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. For the duration of the war, Barton collected clothing, food and supplies and brought them to the front lines where she aided medical units. When the battles ceased, Barton's work continued as she interacted with soldiers -- reading to them, listening to them and praying with them.
In 1869, Barton visited Europe where she learned of the Red Cross Movement taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Four years prior, 12 European nations ratified the Geneva Convention, also called the Red Cross Treaty.
According to the Red Cross website, the treaty mandated that countries protect and care for the wounded and ill "without respect to nationality and for the formation of national societies to give aid voluntarily on a neutral basis."
Barton returned to the United States and for 13 years appealed to presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield to sign the treaty. Finally, in 1882, President Chester Arthur signed.
At the age of 60, Barton formed the American Association of the Red Cross, later reincorporated as the American Red Cross.
There are nearly 600 Red Cross chapters and 58 Service to the Armed Forces stations across the United States, including Fort Carson.
"We've always had a tradition of helping the armed forces," said Amanda Rolsen, senior station manager at Fort Carson.
"In 2008, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces stations worldwide expanded services, working hand-in-hand with military hospitals and wounded warrior units, providing material assistance that is vitally needed to ensure the comfort and recovery of servicemembers," Rolsen said.
In addition to working with hospital staff and Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Battalion, Rolsen said her office helps communicate emergency messages from Families to Soldiers, helping to arrange emergency leave.
"We're on-call 24/7," Rolsen said. "We help verify the emergency with the hospital and get the message to that Soldier's command."
The Red Cross can also supply emergency funds to Soldiers and Family members if aid societies, such as Army Emergency Relief, Air Force Aid and Navy-Marine Corp Relief, are not open.
Rolsen said 150 volunteers are registered to assist at Evans Army Community Hospital, including credentialed physicians, registered nurses, clerical positions, patient assistance and six pet therapy teams.
"Plus, we help coordinate dental and medical assistant training programs," she said, adding that these free courses provide participants the skills needed to find employment in the community.
The Fort Carson Station also hosts a summer program for youth volunteers. Last year, 41 volunteers participated in the program, which Rolsen said allowed them to experience the challenges of working in medical facilities.
"This provides our youth with year-round programming, preparing them for both college and a career in the medical field," she said.
As part of Red Cross Month, members of the Fort Carson Station hosted a five-kilometer run/walk that began at the Special Events Center and wound through Ironhorse Park Saturday. Volunteers will be hosting an information booth about Red Cross programs at The Fort Carson Exchange March 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.