Fayetteville Red Crosser preps for six-month deployment to Horn of Africa

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Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Manager Jeannette Salcedo is packing her gear and saying her goodbyes before embarking on the 32+ hour trip from Fayetteville, NC to Dijbouti, Africa, where she will serve with Red Cross for six months.

Jeannette will be stationed  at Camp Lemonnier, as the only Red Cross staff member on the base. There, she will deliver emergency communication messages from military family members to troops stationed at the base. She will also teach CPR and First Aid, as well as children’s disaster preparedness courses.

Jeannette speaks with the Red Cross about her upcoming deployment to Djibouti, a developing country located on one of the world’s largest shipping routes, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia.

Q: How were you selected to deploy to Camp Lemonnier?

A: I am a mobile staff member for [Red Cross] Service to the Armed Forces (SAF), as such we deploy the same as the military.

Q: What do you think a typical day in Djibouti will look like?

A: HOT!!! I am a certified First Aid/CPR Instructor and a Pillow Case Project Instructor. I will be holding classes to get folks certified. I will also be handling emergency communication messages for the military. Djibouti is a one-man station, so I will be the only Red Cross staff member. [I also expect to be] working out [in my downtime].

I am looking forward to meeting our ally partners in the area and [creating] some fun events to help boost morale.

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Jeannette Salcedo deployed to Afghanistan for five months with the American Red Cross in 2013. 

Q: This is not your first time deploying with Red Cross. You spent five months in Afghanistan in 2013. What was that like? 

A: On Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, we were a four-member team.  We worked around the clock handling emergency communication messages.  We were scheduled 9-hour shifts, but usually worked 10-to-12-hour shifts, seven days a week. We overlapped our schedules so we could assist one another and get caught up on the queue. My shift was 3 p.m. to midnight, but I came in early to assist if needed and usually stayed until 1 a.m. After work, I would go to the gym and workout, go to the USO facility and use the free phones to call home.

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Jeannette Salcedo (right) on Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in 2013.

We also had some morale building events to give our [military members] a break from being on 24/7.  As a team, we would go meet the various units on Bagram to introduce ourselves and let them know what we do. We did an Armed Forces Radio broadcast once a month just to update everyone and remind them Red Cross is there.

 

Oh, and [it was] HOT!!

Q: Is there anything  you are looking forward to doing in your free time while in Djibouti?

A: As SAF, we are embedded with the [military] and we are their responsibility, as such we are not allowed to leave the camp. I would like to be able to meet some of the local people and perhaps volunteer in some capacity.

Q: The primary languages in Djibouti are Arabic and French. Do you expect there to be any language barriers?

A: No, not really. In my experience, people in other countries speak English as a second or third language. The Americans have been in the country for some time so I am sure the local population is at least familiar with English. I certainly hope so because my French is limited to a few phrases and I do not speak Arabic at all.

Q: How are preparing for your six-month trip?

A; I live in an apartment so I am packing up all my belongings and putting them in storage until I return. I will suspend service for my cell phone, cancel utilities, etc. Spending as much time I can with friends and family, especially my two grandchildren, Madison and Jacob. They are my moon and stars!

Q: You have two sons and two grandchildren.  How are they feeling about your deployment?

A: My sons Miguel and Jose’ are very proud of me and what I do.  They think it’s great that I am willing to go to these “not so glamorous places” to help out the military. My grandchildren are 8 and 5 so they really just understand that “Gran” will be gone for a long time.

Q: What are you packing?

A: I will be sending packages in advance, which will contain hygiene/toiletry items: body wash, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. I will also send ahead a first aid kit, sewing kit, towels, and sheets. In my suitcase, khakis, Red Cross polos, sleepwear and pictures of my family and friends.

I will be wearing the military battle uniform six days a week so I do not have the need to pack much in the way of clothing.

Q: Is there anything you hope to gain from this experience?

A: I hope to broaden my exposure to different cultures and gain further experience relating to people from different cultures and points of view. I want to be there for our troops to assist in any way possible, and to bring them a little bit of home.

Q: Are there any local foods you are looking forward to trying?

A: So during our deployment briefs, we are warned against eating anything from the local economy as they do not have the same health standards as we do, and you can become very ill.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about your deployment?

A: Djibouti, Africa is still a Third World country with all the health risks that entails. Raw sewage, dumping of chemicals and lack of proper plumbing.

To find out more about what American Red Cross does for Service to the Armed Forces visit, www.redcross.org/military. 

Story by Andrea Gulley/American Red Cross

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Canadian Red Cross Worker Inspires Her Family to Volunteer

By Courtney Wilson, Canadian Red Cross Public Affairs

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It can be difficult to work in a disaster situation. You meet people who have lost everything, and you see communities that have been completely devastated. The days are long and the work is hard, and when you get home it can be challenging for loved ones to truly understand what you have experienced.

Sarah Oberholzer, from the Canadian Red Cross was deployed to Goldsboro, North Carolina to support the American Red Cross response to Hurricane Matthew.

Having deployed multiple times to provide aid and relief to people that have been affected by a disaster or conflict, this time Sarah was able to share a bit of her experience with some of her family.

Sarah’s aunt and cousin, Renee and Lauren respectively, are from High Point, North Carolina, and travelled to the Red Cross disaster response headquarters in Goldsboro to see Sarah in action and to lend a hand to hurricane affected families.

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Lauren, playing with children in a Red Cross supported shelter in North Carolina.

“It was really good to see how people can actually make a difference for others and be so selfless and contribute so much,” Lauren said of the experience. “It was good to see how much [Sarah] loves [her] job and how that should be a goal for my future.”

The feeling was mutual. “It was amazing to be able to share this with them and expose them to what I do in the field,” Sarah said.

The Red Cross would not be able to do the work we do if it wasn’t for so many dedicated volunteers. We are so grateful for all of our volunteers, including Lauren and Renee. If you are interested in volunteering please visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer.

 

Red Cross Runs in the Family

Story by Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers for the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross.

Volunteers are the heart of the American Red Cross; from Clara Barton assisting on the Civil War battlefields to our present day volunteers responding to disasters across the country. I had the honor and privilege to be invited to the American Red Cross Overseas Association (ARCOA) Memory Ceremony, held at the American Red Cross office in Washington D.C. on November 8th. I was invited to accept the Services to the Armed Forces Legacy Recognition Award for my Great-Great Aunt Agnes Jacobs, who was a Red Cross nurse that served overseas in Paris and Pau, France from 1914-1917 in the hospitals assisting wounded warriors.

Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, at the Red Cross Overseas Association Memorial Ceremony and Recognition of Red Cross Staff Deployed from 1918-2013 event in D.C. on November 8.

Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, at the Red Cross Overseas Association Memorial Ceremony and Recognition of Red Cross Staff Deployed from 1918-2013 event in D.C. on November 8.

While I have always had a strong respect for the history of the Red Cross it became more apparent as I spoke with other volunteers who were present at the event. At the ceremony were two ladies, aged 95 and 99, who had both served as Red Cross volunteers with the military in Europe during World War 2;  they came to the event with other volunteers who had also served during World War 2 working as “donut dollies”. There was a group of ladies who traveled from Arizona, to have a slumber party/reunion with others there for the weekend. They were a part of a small community non-profit from the Vietnam era who traveled with the Red Cross to assist children affected by conflict in their communities. A story was told of a volunteer who had recently died, she was a volunteer in Vietnam, who had been wounded in the head and had to be airlifted MASH style to a field hospital. Sherri Brown had said that this was the only known case of a volunteer having treatment in this fashion.

The ceremony focused on the 5oth Anniversary of  Vietnam. There was a wreath laying commemorating the five Red Cross workers who were killed in action in Vietnam. A second wreath laying was presented for those volunteers who passed away in the past year while their names were read out and taps was played. Lt. Gen. Claude M. Kicklighter presented the Red Cross with a flag commemorating the Vietnam  Anniversary and gave a speech on the role of the Red Cross in military situations.

Overall, the ceremony was very memorable and one to show that our volunteers are never forgotten. It was Jerry DeFrancisco’s (Special Assistant to the President and CEO of the American Red Cross) idea to start the Service to Armed Forces (SAF) Legacy Recognition program and Deborah MacSwain (Volunteer and President of ARCOA), as well as many others who support and keep this program alive for generations to come. While I was not the only one there honoring loved ones of the past for their great service to the Red Cross and the military, this program lives through the dedication and hard work of volunteers.