by Emily Goff and Rebecca Churchill
Since Clara Barton nursed soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War, the Red Cross has been a symbol of support and comfort to America’s armed forces. Ivy Williams was a U.S. soldier stationed in Saudi Arabia when he was wounded and hospitalized. During his rehabilitation, he encountered the human faces of the Red Cross. Day after day, he was visited by kind volunteers who encouraged and supported him, undoubtedly hastening his recovery, and filling him with gratitude. "What's most amazing about the [Red Cross] organization is the people you come in contact with," he said.
There were moments throughout Ivy’s war experience that illuminated the work of the Red Cross in alleviating soldiers’ physical and emotional pain. He witnessed the great power in simple care packages. Ivy watched his friends confined to cots, pouring through the devotionals and using the toiletries and new blankets, offering them simple comforts and remembrances of home and caring people.
Ivy reflected on learning about the versatility of the Red Cross, "I had some misconceptions about the Red Cross before I traveled overseas to serve this country. Now I know that it doesn't exist only to deliver band-aids; in all truth, it exists to spread the positive news, too.”
Ivy knew too well about the duty to deliver bad news, like the death of a family member. However, he was delighted to be with his friend and fellow soldier when the Red Cross called with a different news delivery: the birth of a healthy baby daughter. Despite war around them, Ivy was able to see how the Red Cross strove to support people amid times of joy, as well as despair.
Ivy also recalled how one of his acquaintances had been severely wounded and sent home to the U.S., along with a grant from the Red Cross. Such a financial endowment enabled him to support his family and pay bills, an action that, for many veterans, is a significant struggle during their transition and recovery. "That grant was truly instrumental," Ivy stated.
“The Red Cross is an invaluable service and helps in more ways than you can imagine,” he said. “Take the time to understand what it is the Red Cross does; understand the variety of its services. Don't focus on just one part of it."
Learn more about how the Red Cross supports America's military and Veteran families here: http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families