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Service to the Armed Forces Veterans Day Tent on the National Mall

A World War II veteran signs an American Red Cross flag at the Service to the Armed Forces tent on the National Mall.

As we prepare to observe Veterans Day, I want to thank all veterans, active duty military and families for your service.

Since our founding by Clara Barton in 1881, the American Red Cross has been dedicated to serving people in need. Barton had provided aid and comfort to soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War, and we have carried on that very important mission. We received our first congressional charter in 1900 and, to this day, we are tasked by the federal government with providing services to members of the American armed forces and their families.

The Red Cross offers confidential services to all veterans and their families by connecting them via Red Cross National Call Centers with national, state and local resources through our expansive network of chapters across the country and offices on military installations worldwide.

Here at home, there are 20 military installations and facilities in the Western and Central New York Region. We have five Veterans Affairs Hospitals, and two Military Entrance Processing Stations in Syracuse and Buffalo where applicants for military service go to complete the enlistment process.

Service to the Armed Forces volunteers from the Central New York Chapter visit the Syracuse MEPS twice a week to meet with new military service members and their families, providing them with information on the support systems available from the Red Cross.

Through our Hero Care Network, the Red Cross relays and verifies urgent news from home to service members anywhere in the world. We also administer military aid on behalf of military aid societies to active duty military and retirees in need of emergency financial assistance. Last year, there were 2,508 case services provided to military members, veterans and their families in our region, including 46 in Cayuga County.

At the VA Hospital in Syracuse, local volunteers provide vital assistance in the areas of rehabilitation, recreation, administrative and personal services to the men and women who are cared for at the medical center. We have a similar presence at all VA Hospitals.

In conjunction with our annual Holidays for Heroes program, we’re assembling comfort care kits and delivering them to our veterans, military members and their families. We’re also putting together activity kits for children. The kits will be distributed this holiday season and throughout the year.

To learn more about Service to the Armed Forces, stop by to see us at the CNY Veterans Parade and Expo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at the New York State Fairgrounds. If you can’t make it then, call the Central New York Chapter at (315) 234-2200 or visit the SAF website at redcross.org/saf.

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Judy Pollman is regional director of Service to the Armed Forces & International Services for the American Red Cross. For more information, call (315) 234-2200 or info.cny@redcross.org.

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