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.


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.


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


Keeping it All in the Family

Story and photos by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross

SSgt Adrian Guerrero carried a large box full of donated items from the shelter to a large


Adrian Guerrero and son, Isaiah, carry boxes filled with in-kind donations from Westover shelter to a truck that will carry them to a warehouse for further distribution.

truck. He joked and laughed as he carried the load, obviously enjoying the work and clearly enjoying the feeling he gets from helping others. Guerrero is originally from El Paso, TX and currently stationed at Fort Bragg. His career with the U.S. Army is nearing an end and he is very proud of his service. “I’m an HR [Human Resources] manager who has jumped out of perfectly good airplanes,” Guerrero said as he lifted another box. His attitude and humor were infectious and spread throughout the other workers.

SSgt Guerrero and his son Isaiah (19) have been helping the people affected by Hurricane Mathew since before landfall, driving in heavy rain and high water to deliver food and supplies to shelters. They have stayed with the response working every spare hour. “I like to help and so does my son,” he said. “It’s great when we can work together and see that it makes a difference.”


The Guerrero family, Adrian(l), Corina and Isaiah helping at Westover shelter in Fayetteville.

Guerrero’s wife, Corina, is also a volunteer for the Red Cross. She had moved back to El Paso pending Adrian’s retirement to enroll their daughter in high school. When the storm hit she knew she had to help and quickly returned to North Carolina. Corina has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than four years. She began with the Service to Armed Forces program in Italy and when they returned to the states she continued as a disaster responder. Since she has been back in North Carolina the family has been extremely busy. “My son was hoping I would come back and cook for him,” she said with a tinge of guilt. “So far I have only been able to do that one time.”


Adrian and his son carry a cot loaded with in kind donations at the Westover shelter in Fayetteville.

Despite being busy every day helping others the family is close and it was pretty clear they all care deeply about the Red Cross mission. It’s also clear that the Red Cross is proud to have them on our team.

If you would like to be part of the Red Cross just go to redcross.org and click on VOLUNTEER. Don’t have time and still want to support the Red Cross? Go to the same website and click on DONATE.

Holiday Card Signing Events a Success

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Emily, 9, decorates a card for service members at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. “They miss their families.”

The Holiday Mail for Heroes box closes this Friday, December 6.  Thanks to the support of residents throughout eastern NC, we have successfully collected thousands of cards of gratitude that will be distributed to service members and veterans throughout the holidays. Events were held across the region from Wilmington to Elizabeth City in which community members took the time to send words of encouragement and thanks to our military members.

Our official Holiday Mail for Heroes Kickoff was on November 1 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.  Check out pictures from the event.  Thanks to the 916th Refueling Wing the event was a great success.

Click on the picture to watch the holiday message

Click on the picture to watch the holiday message

The Cape Fear Chapter hosted a card signing event on November 14 at the 105th Anniversary of Service Reception where donors and community partners showed their support for our members of the military by sending messages of hope and gratitude.

Wayne County Red Cross board member Tara Humphries signs cards with Col. Gilmour of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

Wayne County Red Cross board member Tara Humphries signs cards with Col.
Gilmour of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

The Red Cross will now be working throughout the month of December to distribute the cards to service members and veterans in our area. Volunteers are needed during December to help local Red Cross chapters deliver the cards along with some sweet treats to the military instillations in your community. Contact your Red Cross chapter to find out how you can get involved.

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.

Honoring Veterans, Service Members and Families in November

The American Red Cross’ unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army. Today, the Red Cross is meeting the needs of a changing military and expanding services to veterans. Red Cross support of military members and their families enhances morale and contributes to increased operational capability in several ways.

Learn more about our Service to Armed Forces program.

During the month of November the American Red Cross is involved in a number of activities throughout the community to show our support for the brave men and women of our armed forces.  The Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross will be participating in the following event throughout the region: Veteran’s Day Parades in Duplin and Onslow County on Nov. 9, a Veteran’s Day breakfast in Brunswick County on Nov. 11, and a Veteran’s Day Job Fair and Expo on Nov. 15 in New Hanover County.  Along with these events, Red Cross chapters throughout eastern NC are hosting card signing events for the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program. Contact your chapter to find out how you can get involved.

Holiday Mail for Heroes ProgramMom and daughter sign a card for Dad at the holiday card signing kickoff hosted by the Red Cross and 916th air refueling squadron at SeymourJohnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC on Nov. 15 2012

Each year the American Red Cross provides assistance to more than 2 million service members and many of our nation’s 24 million veterans. We support military families, military and veterans hospitals and provide emergency communications across the globe. And once a year, we get the joy of delivering holiday greetings to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.

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Military Family Appreciation Month

Each year the President signs a proclamation declaring November Military Family Month. Last year President Obama said that our nation owes “each day of security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our Armed Forces and their families. Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support.”

Read More

Veteran’s Day

With Veterans Day on Nov. 11, we are reminded of the importance of honoring those who have served our country. The American Red Cross supports military members and veterans in many ways, including providing blood products for many U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.

This November, eligible blood donors can celebrate Veterans Day with the Red Cross by rolling up a sleeve and helping patients in need. Blood donated through the Red Cross is distributed to about 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country for patients in need, including patients at many U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. All blood types are currently needed, especially O negative, A negative and B negative.

Visit redcrossblood.org to book an appointment in your area.

Bidding Farewell to a Dedicated SAF Volunteer

Rosa Rivera has served as a Cape Fear Chapter volunteer since 2010, first as the Cape Fear Chapter SAF Lead Caseworker and then in August 2012 becoming the Regional Lead SAF Caseworker. Rosa’s leadership and service has resulted in hundreds of emergency services being delivered to the military and their families throughout Eastern NC.

Rose Rivera accepting the 2012 SAF Volunteer Leadership Award.

Rose Rivera accepting the 2012 SAF Volunteer Leadership Award.

Military service is a significant part of why Rosa served in the Service to the Armed Force program. She is the wife of a soldier and the mother of two soldiers. This background has allowed Rosa to provide a unique perspective and passion to her service.

Rosa’s experience leads her to ask military family members the right questions and give out correct information and referrals to help close cases and move families forward as they recover from their emergency.

As Rosa steps down from her leadership role to pursue her education, the American Red Cross would like to thank her for her years of dedicated leadership and service!

Red Cross Hires Local Veteran in Rocky Mount

Matthew Warren made the call to serve his country in the beginning of 2008. At age 19, and only one month out of boot camp, Warren was shipped to Sadr City, Iraq. In Iraq,Warren said he was privileged to be with “the best group of men to serve our country, Charlie Company 1-6 INF.”

New Response Specialist, Matthew Warren

New Response Specialist, Matthew Warren

Warren, from Rocky Mount, NC, was with the company for the last six months of a 15 month tour. In Iraq he held roles in operations. His tasks varied from leading patrols of 10-20 men to maintaining and preserving over $1 million in sensitive military equipment.

The American Red Cross made its way into Matthew Warren’s life like it does for so many others- swiftly and without pretense. After his first tour in Iraq, Warren was stationed in Germany awaiting deployment to Afghanistan. One day, without warning, Warren learned that he needed to get home quickly for a family member undergoing emergency surgery.

“They [Red Cross] helped me get home within 72 hours,” Warren said. “They even paid for my plane ticket telling me, ‘Don’t worry about it Matthew, just get home.’”Warren said that this was the first “imprint” that the American Red Cross made on his life.

Warren later concluded that this would not be his only encounter with the American Red Cross. “I realized I still had a calling to answer too,” he said. “I fought for our freedom but I still felt I needed something, so here I am at the Red Cross helping people find hope when all seems lost.”

 On July 29th, Warren was hired as a Response Specialist in the Frederick E. Turnage Chapter of the American Red Cross. Warren’s responsibilities with the American Red Cross will range from engaging volunteers to meeting and preparing with local directors for the upcoming hurricane season.

The American Red Cross plans on adding many more veterans like Matthew Warren. In 2012 the American Red Cross made a commitment to hire 1,000 veterans by the end of 2014.  In a recent nine month stretch, from the middle of 2012 to the beginning of 2013, nearly 6 percent of all American Red Cross hires were veterans.

Matt Warren (left) with fellow Red Cross volunteers and staff.

Matt Warren (left) with fellow Red Cross volunteers and staff.

In honor of this pledge, the American Red Cross and the Department of Veterans Affairs recently signed a memorandum of understanding which signified the commitment of the American Red Cross to hire veterans.

The American Red Cross is also in partnership with VA for Vets, an organization started in 2011 that helps veterans in their career search after they return home.  VA for Vets enables veterans to successfully join the civilian workforce after they return home from their deployments.

By backing their commitments with action the American Red Cross continues to demonstrate their desire in helping veterans reintegrate successfully back into the workforce. To find out more about the Red Cross and their service to the Armed Forces please visit redcross.org.