For our May gathering for Muster & Mingle, we were pleased to see several new faces! We had veterans from several counties in attendance, and everyone really seemed to have a great night. Dinner was donated by Domino’s in Sidney, OH, and those who came were eager to enjoy the pepperoni and sausage pizzas, along with salad and a little sweet treat. Veterans engaged in lively discussion during dinner, with the new faces indistinguishable from those who have been attending for months as conversation (and Highland Grogg coffee!) flowed.
After dinner, our Director, Valerie Mullikin, took a few moments to reflect on the events of May 2019 that would become the catalyst for Operation Veteran and Caregiver Support. During the chaotic aftermath of the 21 tornadoes that ripped across the Miami Valley that Memorial Day weekend, our mission was created and tested. We were pleased to be able to mark this anniversary with the veteran community we serve not only in person, but with the help of our guest speaker for the evening, who was also hard at work caring for those affected by that tragedy.
Marc Cantrell is with the American Red Cross and he spoke to us about being ‘Red Cross Ready’ for natural disasters, no matter what shape they may take. A Marine Corps veteran, Marc has been with the Red Cross for 7 years, and has worked in natural disaster response for over 16 years. As a former resident of South Carolina, Marc is certainly no stranger to the impact that natural disasters can have on a community, however he did let us know that he preferred the hurricanes of the south and east coasts to the tornadoes that we get here in Ohio. “A hurricane has the decency to let you know it’s coming. You get news broadcasts for days, you can decide if it shifts one degree this way or that what your plan is. With a tornado, you’ve got newscasters going crazy and people hiding in their bathtub.”
Marc brought a sample readiness kit, containing things like water, flashlights (batteries removed and stored separately), personal hygiene items, sanitation supplies, cell phone charger, and pet supplies, if necessary. The readiness kit he brought also included MREs, which led to a healthy debate as to the best MRE meal and a universal agreement that MRE fruitcake is the pinnacle of dessert foods. Along with explaining how to be prepared for a natural disaster, Marc also spoke of the Red Cross program that will install up to three smoke detectors, free of charge, for those without working smoke detectors in their homes.
We also learned of all the ways that you can volunteer with the Red Cross, whether that is right after an emergency, in a supply warehouse, or driving supplies to where they are needed. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer and help out our neighbors when they are dealing with what may be the worst days of their lives. If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please click here to be directed to their Volunteer Role Finder to see what opportunities are in your area!
We are looking forward to June, from our fishing derby on June 4th all the way to our June 29th for our Muster & Mingle meeting. Keep an eye on our upcoming events page to make sure you don’t miss out on any of our events!