By Scott Prater
If Jim Griffith is not a familiar face to people on base yet, he will be to anyone who deploys from Schriever in the near future.
Since November of last year Griffith has briefed deploying personnel for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.
As the service to armed forces outreach coordinator for the PPARC he informs and counsels military members and their families about the services the Red Cross offers.
The list is an extensive one and Griffith knows how vital they become because he’s been on the other side as U.S. Army chaplain.
“While I was deployed to Bosnia in 1994 my father suffered a heart attack and I was the recipient of an emergency message. That message allowed me to go on emergency leave and the Red Cross helped financially to get me back to the U.S.,” he said. “Of course, commanders are the only people who can grant leave, but the Red Cross functions as an honest broker between families, doctors and such and military unit commanders down to Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines. It’s an invaluable function, because without it, commanders would be operating on much less information.”
Locally, PPCARC deployment briefings are structured in a get-to-know-us-before-you-need-us type of style and cover topics such as how a person (family member, emergency personnel) would go about initiating an emergency message request.
But Griffith made it clear, the Red Cross provides many more services to military members and their families.
Tom Gonzales, American Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter chief executive officer, said the agency performs four primary roles throughout 18 southeastern Colorado counties: services to armed forces, disaster services, health and safety training and international tracing.
“In this part of the country the top three take precedence,” Gonzales said. “With five military bases in El Paso County our service to armed forces has a special interest for us.”
The American Red Cross is steeped in military history. Clara Barton founded the service during the mid-1800s, tending to wounded Soldiers on Civil War battlefields. American Red Cross volunteers have provided first aid on the front lines, nursing care, medical supplies food and other necessities to service members in every conflict since.
Griffith said the ARC also takes pride in providing care and support to local veterans, while also training volunteers to enter veterans and military medical facilities.
“We host the Veterans Stand Down every year,” he said. “This event combines local community support agencies into one place to provide information, skills, training and health services in an effort to pull veterans in need back into a support network.”
Events like the Veterans Standown highlights the agency’s vast network, which allows it to serve military members and families in a resource-finding capacity.
“I think one of the best things the Red Cross does is seek out resources and help people solve problems,” said Christina Stump, community readiness consultant for Schriever’s Airman and Family Readiness Center. “If a spouse or family member needs help, the local Red Cross folks know where to start and who to talk to help solve a military family member’s problem, whether it be financial, logistical or emergency oriented.”
Griffith indicated the PPARC regularly recruits volunteers. To find out more information about volunteering visit www.pparc.org.