Friday, November 11, 2016

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director Faye Anderson, November 2016

Service to the Armed Forces: Connecting families around the world!  Please read the following heartfelt account from the heart of a wife and volunteer, whose husband is deployed serving our country.

To give you a bit of background, my husband Nick and I along with our son Jacob, first moved to the Clarksville area over four years ago when he received orders to Fort Campbell. It was then that I knew I wanted to return to school. I wanted to create a life for myself and for my family that I could be proud of and passionate about. In my journey to find the perfect career path, I recalled a mission trip I took to Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. It was there that I met a man who had sought shelter in his attic for two weeks completely surrounded by water snakes not knowing where fate would lead him. As the man told me his devastating story, the one part that stood out the most was the decision for him to come down and face the aftermath of the storm because of an American Red Cross volunteer. This memory is what ultimately lead me to pursue a career in Emergency and Disaster Management and an internship at our local Red Cross chapter in Clarksville.

I have been blessed with endless professional opportunities through the Red Cross, however, the Red Cross is also there for me on a personal level. Perhaps you can envision my life in two ways as it pertains to the American Red Cross; a disaster volunteer and a military spouse who may have to call upon Services to the Armed Forces of the American Red Cross should my husband ever need to come home in an emergency. In fact, American Red Cross is the only organization I could call upon in this situation.

Living in Clarksville, I am nine hours away from my closest family member. That means, should something happen to me while my husband is away or deployed, our five year old son would be here without any family. In order for Nick to come home, and be with Jacob, Services to the Armed Forces would place a call to his command and place him on an immediate flight home. I can’t even begin to describe what kind of relief that provides as a mother and a wife.

As a military spouse, Services to the Armed Forces has taught me to cope with and become resilient against anything the Army may throw our way.

Services to the Armed Forces has recognized Jacob during Month of the Military Child for supporting his dad. Many say military children serve in their own special way too.

There are several realms of life that the Red Cross provides aid for. Let’s take a moment and visualize some of these. Should any one of us be involved in a car accident and need lifesaving blood, the Red Cross provides.  When families are affected by disaster whether stateside or internationally, the Red Cross responds and helps pick up the pieces. What if we were unable to help ourselves because of a medical complication, there may be a Red Cross certified CPR and First Aid volunteer right around the corner to help. These scenarios are how military families feel about Services to the Armed Forces. As spouses and family members we like to think of ourselves as being strong and resilient no matter what comes our way, but when times get tough and it’s crucial for our service member to be by our side, Services to the Armed Forces is there.

Services to the Armed Forces provides a comfort level that no other organization can. The security of knowing someone would be there to get my husband home or give him a comfort kit should he be wounded takes an enormous weight of worry off of my shoulders. Already this deployment, my husband has had several soldiers who were sent home and reunited with their families in emergency situations, all at the hands of the American Red Cross.

When the deployment is through, we will have been married five years, never celebrated an anniversary together, missed holidays and birthdays, spent almost two of those five years apart and yet we can continue to hold strong, love and support one another because of the support and sense of community we receive from organizations such as the red cross that we know are supporting us.
I truly believe in the mission statement of the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
It is because of the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors like you that the American Red Cross will be there in the future should I need them, and has been there for so many service members across the country.

Katy Hagstrom
Military spouse, proud mother, and American Red Cross Volunteer

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