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Red Cross Month: A Time to Honor Our Volunteer Heroes

Updated: Mar 7


Harold West is part of a unit of Service to the Armed Forces volunteers deployed to Europe to support our troops. The Red Cross helped him in Vietnam during the war and now he gets to help the next generation of soldiers. American Red Cross photo by Brad Zerivitz


During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross recognizes those who make our lifesaving mission possible — including our remarkable volunteers, who represent 90% of our workforce. When people face what can be the worst time in their lives, Red Cross volunteers step up to help people get the relief and care they need.


This annual celebration began 80 years ago when President Franklin D. Roosevelt first proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to raise awareness of the organization’s critical humanitarian mission. Our work today is powered by volunteers, financial and blood donors, community partners and people trained in vital health and safety skills.


ONE VOLUNTEER’S STORY Harold West recently deployed to Poland on behalf of the Red Cross as a member of Team 50 — a unit of Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces personnel. He and his colleagues are deployed for three to four months to 10 Army installations around the globe.

West went into the Army right after high school. He was one of the last group of folks who had draft numbers and quickly found himself on the ground in Vietnam. West says that it was a good experience for him, but during that tour, he learned that his brother-in-law passed away.

“That’s when the Red Cross contacted me. They helped me out quite a bit and offered support. I never forgot it,” he said.


West says that he never forgot about that event in Vietnam. Now that he’s retired, he wanted to see what he could do to help the next generation of soldiers. “This has been a life-long dream of mine, to serve in this capacity,” he said.


He anticipates that emergency care messages will be a critical component of his deployment. “It’s important that we are there during the worst of times,” he said.

If a family experiences an emergency, the Red Cross will verify that emergency and work with unit commanders to notify the service member. If leave is granted from the command, the Red Cross works with military aid societies to help get the soldier home, serving as a link between home and the military.


“We keep everyone together because it really does help,” he added.


JOIN US We need you. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to learn how you can make a difference in one of our most-needed positions. Below are a few of our most critical positions:

  • Disaster Action Team: These volunteers help families with their immediate needs after a home fire or other disaster, offering support during a very difficult time. As a team member, you will provide emotional support, emergency financial assistance and information to help families begin to recover.

  • Blood donor ambassadors: Volunteers in this role engage with blood donors by greeting them at blood drives, helping them register, answering questions, providing information and assisting them at the refreshments table.

  • Blood transportation specialists: There is a high need for volunteer transportation specialists who support hospital patients by delivering blood from our facilities to local hospitals. If you have a little free time, love driving and enjoy meeting new people, the Red Cross has a great volunteer spot waiting for you.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP You can join our Red Cross Month celebration in other ways too:

  • Give blood: Help ensure blood is available for patients who need it. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.

  • Donate: Support Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts at at redcross.org/givingday. Your donation will be part of our annual Giving Day on March 22. A gift of any size makes a difference to provide shelter, food, relief ítems, emotional support and other assistance.

  • Take a class: Sign up redcross.org/takeaclassat to learn lifesaving skills like CPR, first aid and how to use an AED, so you can help in the moments that matter.

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