American Red Cross: “Mama Bear” of OAR

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The American Red Cross is an organization that works toward providing disaster relief to individuals who go through major crises, something that has been extremely vital throughout Operation Allies Refuge.

“I like to think of the Red Cross as the ‘mama bear’ of caretaking, we think of the things that military members may not be thinking of,” said Jami Malcolm, Red Cross volunteer during OAR. “We sustain our guests while they’re here, anytime someone has a need, they can come to the Red Cross. Without the Red Cross, people wouldn’t know where to go, they wouldn’t know where they could have their needs met.”

The Red Cross has been providing Afghan evacuees basic hygiene and comfort items throughout OAR.

“We take evacuees after they’ve been through the in-processing center where we provide initial, immediate needs, such as hygiene items, snack items, water, baby items, and blankets to children and individuals who were not provided one,” Malcolm said. “We work with the family and children tents to ensure they have diapers, formula, wipes, and bottles. There’s communication constantly and each side of the camp has runners to ensure everyone has what they need.”

Building on a joint partnership with the Red Cross is something that is extremely vital to the U.S. Air Force. The ability to take care of their Airmen, families, allies, and individuals in need is at the forefront of the Air Force’s mission, culture, and expectations.

“The relationship that we have built here teaches both the Red Cross and the Air Force that they can rely on this partnership in the future,” said U.S. Senior Airman Evan Saffle, 86th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman and hangar 2 boss. “OAR and the Red Cross’ involvement has taught us a basic blueprint to follow and the shoes that each participating agency has to fill.”

The ability to connect and work together in the face of crisis is something that will always be vital to the success of the mission. U.S. military members participating in OAR and their counterparts ensure the mission is getting done, regardless of their role.

“Everybody is so important and pivotal in each part they play in this, we reach out to each section and make sure we can help them in any way possible,” Malcolm said. “Our Army partners are supporting the Red Cross during our evening shifts, we are partnering with all of the Airmen working inside the pods, we’re working with the command pod, the administration bosses in each of the pods, and our local ground transportation who escort the evacuees to our tents, and our medics, they have specific items they are allowed to give out that we cannot so we secure those items and then give them to them.”

Without the Red Cross, the mission would still persist, but not without additional work being put in by Airmen and the other participating agencies.

“We would be severely undermanned without the Red Cross,” Malcom said. “ We would need to have a solid crew of people doing in-fill at all times, giving out all of the donations the Red Cross is doing.”

The Red Cross has been vital not only to ensuring the Air Force’s mission is completed but also ensuring all Afghan evacuees are taken care of, every day, every moment.