Red Cross recognizes Maine veterans, as well as special role caregivers play

PHOTO: U.S. Navy member Quitasha Simmons (center) is celebrated on Mother’s Day by her children, from left, Kiana Simmons, Armann Docteur and Kyshira Simmons, along with partner Tavares Ricks. Simmons, a 24-year veteran of the Navy, benefited from Red Cross blood donations when she needed a massive transfusion after having a C-section when she gave birth to her youngest child. (Red Cross photo)

PORTLAND — This Veterans Day weekend, as well as throughout November, the American Red Cross is honoring veterans as well as recognizing the special role that caregivers play in their care. November is also National Veterans and Military Families Month.
In FY21, the Red Cross provided 1,138 services to Maine military members, veterans and their families through our Service to the Armed Forces programs.
Serving more than 8,200 caregivers worldwide, the Military Veteran Caregiver Network offers caregivers peer mentors, peer support groups, an online community as well as mental health, wellness and resiliency workshops. The network seeks to decrease feelings of isolation, and increase feelings of connection, hope and well-being.
“Between COVID-19, international conflict and even the impact to communities and livelihoods from repeated natural disasters, mental health has been a struggle for so many of us in the military community,” said Celeste Stimpson, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces regional director. “Our caregivers are serving a vital role on the front lines of this battle, needing more support and resources now than ever.”
The MVCN provides caregivers the ability to connect in a confidential environment that’s best for them. Our peer mentor program helps meet the specific needs of caregivers one-on-one, while peer support groups connect caregivers facing similar challenges. We offer secure online caregiver only communities to create a supportive network that is accessible without having to leave home.
In Maine, veterans and their caregivers report that the compounding effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, have created additional stressors.
In recent months, MVCN saw an increase in the use of the Hero Care Resource Directory, which provides access to more than 800 resources in every zip code in America specifically designed for veterans, service members, caregivers and their families.
Many Red Cross volunteers are veterans who continue to support their communities after their active duty service ends. Also, about 6 percent of Red Cross employees include transitioning military or veterans – from nurses to logisticians, emergency management experts, project managers and preparedness experts, as well as a number of veterans in leadership roles at local Red Cross chapters across the country.
Within the Northern New England Region volunteer workforce, there are seven active-duty military members, 112 veterans and 95 military or veteran family members. Additionally, five staff members are veterans.
Tens of thousands of Red Cross volunteers also serve in Veterans Administration and military hospitals across the nation and around the world. These volunteers support such areas as rehabilitation, recreation, administration, and personal services to the men and women who are now cared for each day in these facilities.
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