To Steve Peth, life is about the humbling moments -- the moments unlocked only by stretching oneself as a devoted volunteer. This remarkable man has let his unwavering sincerity to shine through by aligning himself with the Red Cross. A volunteer with this organization, specifically at its renowned Walter Reed Army Medical Center, since July 5, 2006, this man wholly embraces the vital essence of volunteerism. Decidedly, Steve’s journey is quite inspiring and worth reading more about.
Before Steve began contributing service to the Red Cross, hewas involved with the military -- particularly as an enlisted man, a warrant officer, a commissioned officer, and a DUSTOFF pilot in Vietnam. Despite needing to grapple with the fierce ache of a bullet wound -- and the consequent operations on it -- he still couldn't be discouraged from this realm of service; the military efforts in Vietnam were too close to Steve’s heart. Ultimately, there were two essential connections he forged with the Red Cross as a result of these experiences during this time of his life: one was sparked when he flew an aircraft graced by the Red Cross insignia for 11 months, with the purpose of traveling in and out of battle, rescuing wounded American civilians and combatants; the other one was born when, as a military retiree, he received some medical care at Walter Reed. At the end of the day, the Red Cross became a symbol of hope and renewal for Steve, and thus the most appropriate organization for him to intertwine with. Involvement arose from a simple, sincere belief: “I felt I could provide the necessary empathy to be a good volunteer.”
Today, Steve volunteers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, holding two working positions: one, a volunteer in the Physical Therapy Outpatient Clinic; and two, Medical Clinic Chairman, Walter Reed Department of Rehabilitation. In the Physical Therapy Clinic, he assists the therapists by dressing treatment tables; exchanging linen; retrieving, exchanging and cleaning exercise equipment; cleaning mats; transporting patients; and whatever else the staff needs to have done on the days he is there. As Medical Clinic Chairman, he is responsible for screening, orienting, training, and placing all Red Cross volunteers in the Department of Rehabilitation. Additionally, he serves as the single point of contact for all Red Cross activities in the Department of Rehabilitation and responds to the Department Head and Clinic Chiefs. The average number of volunteers serving in the Department is over 70.
On July 15, 2015, Steve underwent the greatly affirming experience of leading Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross, and Koby Langley, American Red Cross Senior Vice President for Service to the Armed Forces, on a tour of the Department of Rehabilitation. Ever the humble man, Steve informed me, “I thought my service to the Department was valued by the staff but I never knew for sure until this particular visit.” According to Steve, the comments made by the clinic Chiefs and the Department Heads about him during this unforgettable tour were “extraordinary, sincere and unsolicited,” and, furthermore, he emphasized to me, “I will never forget it and, knowing how they feel about my service with the Red Cross, I stay motivated to continue what I am doing.” Seeing Steve compelled by such nonmaterial things as words is truly inspirational.
Irrevocably, Steve Peth is a critical factor in the Walter Reed Center’s -- and, moreover, the Red Cross’ -- success in reviving humanity during its most taxing moments. There's no incentive a person ought to be vying for. As a conclusion to our enlightening interview, Steve shared the bare truth: “Those considering service with the Red Cross should make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.” I encourage everyone to follow in this praiseworthy man’s footsteps.