It was dinner time at the Ventura Veterans Home when Carol Rogers arrived. As a Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer, she often visits with local veterans both at the home and out in the community. Carol sat down at a table and began to chat with the residents about their outing next Wednesday.
“Wednesdays are reserved for offsite outings. We go to so many interesting places such as museums, car shows, ball games, swap meets, race tracks, missions, casinos, luncheons, historical locations, art galleries, and harbors,” said Carol, “I assist the veterans getting on and off the bus, support the vision impaired and help with any other physical need, sometimes just keeping the veteran company.”
On other days like today Carol often visits with the residents at the home to lift their spirits or simply be someone to talk to over a warm meal.
Carol’s husband Jim is a Viet Nam veteran, so she was instantly drawn to the SAF program when she signed up to volunteer. Together they serve as Red Cross representatives for the annual Veterans Stand Down in July where veterans get much deserved assistance with hygiene, dental work, legal assistance, and more.
But the SAF program doesn’t just support veterans. From the moment service members enlist, the Red Cross is there to support active duty military and their families. From resiliency training to linking military families during emergencies and to supporting wounded warriors, the Red Cross is dedicated to supporting all levels of military service.
SAF volunteers like Carol and Jim often visit local military bases for deployments and homecomings, to be a friendly face and warm hug for service members.
“Simpson was on the working crew until his unit deployed,” said Carol, “When he left I told him I would see him on the tarmac in 6 months when he returned. He said I wouldn’t remember who he was by then. When he returned he came up behind me at the Welcome Home and said, ‘Hi, bet you don’t remember me!’ while covering his name on his shirt. I said, ‘Bet I do! Hi Simpson, welcome home.’ He gave me the biggest hug with tears in his eyes.”
SAF volunteers like Carol Rogers are part of the more than 90% volunteer workforce that provides humanitarian services in the Central California Region. The Red Cross thanks and honors these selfless and compassionate every day heroes during National Volunteer Week, April 12-18. Click here to learn more about the “Day in the Life of a Volunteer” series.