The Red Cross is proud to acknowledge the large number of U.S. veterans who are choosing, once again, to serve on the front lines. Veteran volunteers are applying their unique, professional skills in a variety of ways during this unprecedented time in our nation’s history – whether fighting COVID or back-to-back disasters – as part of the Red Cross team.
Here in North Carolina, retired Air Force veteran Roberto Mendoza serves as Disaster Action Team Coordinator for the Cape Fear Area Chapter, which serves 12 counties in Eastern NC.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Roberto graduated from high school during the height of the Vietnam War and joined the Air Force in 1968. Robert’s dream career was aircraft maintenance, and he was fortunate to be sent to Shepard Air Force Base in Texas to attend technical school to complete this training.
Over the next several years, Roberto’s career took him from his first duty station in Kedena, Okinawa, to Thailand, where his squadron fought in the Vietnam War. The following years included deployments to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC (where he and wife Wenonah bought a house and currently reside).
Roberto spent much of his time in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance instructor, and this is where he was introduced to the Red Cross. Instructors were required to become certified in CPR, and Roberto went on to teach CPR/AED and First Aid for the rest of his Air Force career. Roberto retired as a Master Sergeant after 20 years of service.
Today, Roberto serves on the Disaster Action Team (DAT), which provides emotional support, financial assistance, and information to families affected by house fires, floods, and other disasters. Volunteers on the team respond to emergencies within two hours, night or day, rain or shine, either on the scene or coordinating remotely to provide immediate compassion and care.
Roberto loves helping others in any way he can through the Red Cross, and he encourages other veterans to consider stepping up as a volunteer. “It’s an ideal fit, because as a Red Cross volunteer, you learn that things must be done in an orderly fashion, and that’s what the military teaches you,” he says. “In addition, veterans are accustomed to leaving their families from time to time, they are willing to go out and serve in the field when needed.”
During his free time, Roberto enjoys spending time with his family, photography, and flying drones. Thank you for your service, Roberto, and your continued commitment to your community.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with the Red Cross, click here.