Hero Care App connects military families

rco_blog_img_herocareapp_img_7073The American Red Cross has a new mobile app for military families and veterans. The Hero Care App provides instant access to vital Red Cross services anywhere in the world. Whether you’re a military member, the parent of a child in the military, a military spouse, or a veteran, this free mobile application guides you to valuable resources and services that can help alleviate stress and provide important information at your fingertips.

With the Hero Care App you can...

  • Request Red Cross emergency services including an emergency message or assistance with emergency travel or emergency financial aid.
  • Securely and easily access information about their service member in the case of an emergency, including updated information as they move or change duty assignments.
  • Access non-emergency Red Cross behavioral health assistance including financial assistance and free local workshops for military kids and spouses.
  • Find local resources and information provided by trusted community partners like Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Blue Star Families, Military Child Education Coalition, United Way, Goodwill, Easter Seals, and others.
  • Locate information on key government resources such as MilitaryOneSource, VA Benefits and Services, Department of Labor VETS, the VA Caregiver Support Program, and SAMSHA Community Health Support Services.

In addition, with the Hero Care App you can connect with other Red Cross apps, such as the Emergency, First Aid and Blood apps.

To download to the Hero Care App to your smart phone or tablet, search for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store, text GETHEROCARE to 90999 to receive a download link, or go to redcross.org/apps. The Hero Care App is available in English and Spanish.

Volunteers Help Soldiers During Yellow Ribbon Event

Chief Warrant Officer Michele Jammer and Red Cross volunteer Jim Kinzie at the Yellow Ribbon event in Minneapolis on February 8, 2014. Photo credit: Lara Leimbach/American Red Cross.
Chief Warrant Officer Michele Jammer and Red Cross volunteer Jim Kinzie at the Yellow Ribbon event in Minneapolis on February 8, 2014. Photo credit: Lara Leimbach/American Red Cross.

On Saturday, February 8, American Red Cross volunteers from our region participated in a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program conference in Minneapolis, which focused on promoting well-being by connecting service-members and families with resources throughout the deployment cycle.

The Red Cross volunteers worked with over 500 military service and family members from 30 states to discuss the manners by which the Red Cross can serve them. Some examples include linking military families during an emergency, connecting people with local community resources, providing resiliency training and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals.

Chief Warrant Officer Michele Jammers shared how she benefited twice from the Red Cross service of linking family members during an emergency. During one deployment, it enabled her to receive news about her grandmother in a timely manner. During a later deployment, the service assisted her with receiving news about her father in the presence of a chaplain and returning from the (military) theater.

Sergeant Carol Crowe, the Community Partners Coordinator for the conference, expressed the importance of connecting military service members and families with pertinent community partners. She cited an example of when she referred a military parent with four kids to the Red Cross for assistance when that parent was down to his/her last $20.

Story by Red Cross volunteer Geno Sung and photo by Red Cross volunteer Lara Leimbach. Click here to learn more about the American Red Cross Service to the  Armed Forces Program. Click here to donate and support Red Cross SAF activities.

Students and seniors sign holiday mail for heroes

Erica Harmsen (l) and Priscilla Miller (r) sign holiday cards American military, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.
Erica Harmsen (l) and Priscilla Miller (r) sign holiday cards for the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.

Several TrekNorth High School students joined forces with residents of the WindSong Senior Living Center in Bemidji this past Veterans Day to help write holiday card messages as part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

“I like to include that we’re writing from Bemidji,” Erica Harmsen, the accompanying TrekNorth teacher said to one of the residents. She explained that troops might like seeing where their correspondence is coming from – and that making it more personal is nice, especially with cards being sent overseas.

TrekNorth students and Windsong residents sign holiday cards, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.
TrekNorth students and Windsong residents sign holiday cards, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.

Students and residents had no trouble writing out several cards each. All participants were pleased they will bring a bit of holiday cheer to American veterans, military families and active-duty service members.

This is the second year that TrekNorth has partnered with WindSong to create holiday cards for Holiday Mail for Heroes. WindSong Volunteer Coordinator Alice Stark-Anderson and Senior Services Administrator Linda Barkley helped organize the event.

Lil Humenick (l) and Kassandra Zanter (r) work together on signing holiday cards, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.
Lil Humenick (l) and Kassandra Zanter (r) write holiday cards, Bemidji, Nov. 11, 2013.

American Red Cross North Star Chapter volunteers will convene to write out more cards on November 21. Those interested in participating may contact North Star Chapter Community Coordinator Lynn Arlt at 218-444-9490.

Story and photos by Grace Littlefield, American Red Cross Volunteer 

“Gray Lady” Uniform Preserves Red Cross History

"If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer," says Terry Dugger, 80, who served as a Red Cross volunteer from 1968 to 1970. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Among the treasures Terry Dugger has kept through the decades is a uniform that she wore as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.

“We saw the fellas coming in from motorcycle accidents. I went to different rooms and passed out shaving equipment, playing cards, and other things like that. There wasn’t anybody else on the base to do it,” she says.

Dugger’s Red Cross uniform is different from those the Gray Lady Service volunteers used during World Wars I and II. This has blue and white pin stripes. Worn for only two years and in excellent condition, the uniform is now a gift from Dugger as a means to share and preserve Red Cross history.

A "Gray Lady" volunteer uniform circa 1960s preserves Red Cross history. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Dugger, who was an air force wife for twenty years, did volunteer work when her six children were in school, serving in the Red Cross from 1968-70. Now 80 years old, Dugger still shares valuable time doing a variety of volunteer activities.

“I couldn’t wait until I got old and now I’m too old, but rather than sit home I want to get out and help people.”

Being a volunteer has given—and continues to provide—Dugger with a greater sense of purpose. Currently, she’s a volunteer at the Armed Forces Service Center at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

In the late 1960s, Terry Dugger served as a Red Cross volunteer at the military hospital on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dugger attended Saint Mark’s elementary school, located a couple blocks from her residence for thirty years. Growing up, both of her parents worked so she often tended to the “roomers” they had to help pay bills. Dugger says that the experience taught her to be independent, a characteristic she cherishes so much that she would never consider getting herself a boyfriend.

“Are you kidding!?! I had a good husband. I can do what I want. I can eat ice cream for breakfast. I’ve got a lot of things to do,” she says.

Dugger also has no use, she says, for a computer or a cell phone. Instead, she looks forward to getting letters from the postal service everyday.

She advises everyone, including her 40 or so grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, to stay busy throughout life.

“If you keep busy and volunteer, you stay alive a little longer.”

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross, Northern Minnesota Region