By Mr. Stephen Baack (IMCOM)March 26, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (March 26, 2013) -- To recognize its volunteers for their contributions throughout 2012, the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach American Red Cross held an awards ceremony and dinner at the Orangerie Cafe here March 22.
This year the USAG Ansbach Red Cross racked up more than 3,800 hours, which, based on values from independent-sector research, amounts to nearly $80,000 in savings for the Army. The hours include volunteer work from more than 50 individuals including youths and adults, and a number of professional, licensed volunteers such as physicians.
The volunteer hours included health and safety classes, pre-deployment and in-processing briefings, work with the Warrior Transition Battalion, support for those deployed to Afghanistan and help for new parents. The Red Cross also provides disaster relief, renders services overseas and facilitates blood donations. In fact, the American Red Cross supplies nearly half of the nation's blood supply.
Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1943 proclamation of March as Red Cross Month, every American president thereafter has affirmed the month's designation to recognize one of the most well-known humanitarian organizations, its people and those who contribute to its mission with their money, time and blood.
The Red Cross has worked closely with the military since the Spanish-American War, and its volunteers comprise the majority of the organization.
"The Red Cross has 2.5 million volunteers and 300,000 employees, and so if it weren't for the volunteers, we wouldn't be able to accomplish any of the missions we're mandated to do by Congress, as well as meet the needs of the direct community," said Cassandra Wyatt, station manager.
To Kevin L. Griess, USAG Ansbach deputy garrison commander, the Red Cross is vital to the military -- especially to military garrisons. Griess said he couldn't "imagine a garrison operating without a Red Cross being on the ground."
"Within a garrison, there are very few things that, outside military operations, bring people together as a community and allow them to anchor themselves in times of need and crisis," Griess said. "The Red Cross provides that service, and the Red Cross also provides an outlet for people who want to contribute to that service."
Griess said if trouble strikes a military community, "they'll be the first ones on the ground, standing right there with blankets and food and shelter and everything else. They are a 360-degree partner, both in peace and in an emergency."
Volunteer awards included the Certificate of Appreciation, Special Citation of Exceptional Volunteer Service, Certificate for Extraordinary Personal Action, and Presidential Volunteer Service Award with bronze, silver and gold designations and pins.
Before presenting awards alongside station Chairperson LaDona K. Lane, Griess served as keynote speaker. The challenge to find the right words to describe how he feels about the Red Cross was among his points.
"How can I put that into words in any language?" Griess asked the crowd, saying that "there is no more powerful partner to the garrison than the Red Cross. … It is an anchor, a support structure if disaster comes to us. … To the garrison, the Red Cross is part of its blood.
"It's not, 'What do you need?' It's, 'What can we do?' The difference is, 'What can we do?' is a blank check," Griess continued.
Griess said it's important to recognize the Red Cross volunteers and though they may appear to be unnoticed or underappreciated at times, they "deserve endless gratitude" for their work.
Lane, who serves as station chairperson and who received the President's Volunteer Service Award (Silver), offered similar sentiments.
"We're always glad to have volunteers, and it's important to recognize those volunteers who do give their time because they could be doing a lot of other things -- but they choose to volunteer, and that's huge," Lane said.
Lane added that as the Army shifts more of its focus to fiscal responsibility, volunteers are that much more in demand as tasks such as paying contractors are more challenging. And according to Wyatt, volunteers can pick up marketable skills, like in the Red Cross' upcoming dental assistant training class.
Wyatt added, "It's a win-win situation."
To learn more about the services offered through USAG Ansbach Red Cross, or to volunteer, call DSN 467-1760. To learn more about the American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org.