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Cycle of service: Volunteers serve service members

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The American Red Cross aides many branches of the Armed Forces, their service members, and even their family. Without the dedicated service of the volunteers who run the Red Cross, many would go without information and basic necessities during times of trial.

“The American Red Cross is run by 90 percent volunteers,” said Camey Ramirez, Ramstein Air Base Red Cross volunteer and public relations communication lead. “And when I say that, I don’t mean just here in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, I mean nationally. Luckily, we have volunteers who show up, work, are enthusiastic, want the organization to be great, and want their community to be great.”

Serving as one of the pillars that keeps the military flourishing, the Red Cross is there to ensure service members are fit to fight both on and off the battlefield.

“We may not be the ones who are holding the weapons with the jackets,” said Ramirez. “But we’re the ones there to give you a bottle of water and a hug when you get back.”

For more than 100 years the Red Cross’ primary mission and biggest impact has been their ability to deliver emergency communication. In addition, the Red Cross holds many events that assist service members and their families. Everything from basic life support classes to babysitting courses that teach young adults how to watch children. They are able to provide disaster relief and partner with other nonprofit organizations like the Armed Services Blood Program to get blood donations, Ramirez said.

While most people’s journey to the Red Cross are all different, many of the volunteers are spouses or family members of service members.

Ramstein Air Base Red Cross Volunteer Arlene Williams realized it was time to volunteer once her husband got involved.

“I just wanted to do something good with my time,” said Williams. “So when he started, I started volunteering too.”

Well aware of the Red Cross’ impact, Williams dove in with the volunteering.

“My dad worked for the United Nations and in Sri Lanka the Red Cross was always very involved.” said Williams. “So growing up I always knew about the Red Cross. I later volunteered for the German Red Cross and then I moved away for a while so I didn’t really do much with them. So when my husband started volunteering for the Red Cross I was motivated to come back.”

Volunteers are the pulse of the Red Cross. They allow the program to continue aiding and assisting service members throughout the department of defense. While volunteers give the Red Cross life, the Red Cross gives something valuable back to its volunteers.

“Volunteering is a great way to bridge the résumé gap,” said Ramirez. “You don’t go back to the states and look at your résumé and wonder why there is a giant gap. Everyone knows who the Red Cross is. They’re a huge help to our forces and they’re a huge help to hospitals and health services back home.”