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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Volunteering to Lighten the Load of Service Members

Updated: Apr 5

When Ken Noltie moved from San Diego to Omaha and went looking for a volunteer opportunity that would allow him to serve the military community, he didn’t have to look far. As a retired sailor, Noltie wanted to maintain his military connections. Red Cross Volunteer Services placed him in volunteer roles with Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. Many years later, Noltie is the Volunteer Lead at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha.


Ken Noltie, second from left at the Veterans' Standdown.

“That would probably be talking to the older vets, the retirees about their glory days,” Noltie said when asked about his favorite aspect of volunteering. “I don’t have to read history books because I get to talk to the guys who were there.”


In addition to being the Red Cross Volunteer Lead at Offutt, Noltie assists with blood drives and wrapping holiday gifts for families of service members. He also volunteers in the pharmacy on base twice per week.


He’s developed a rapport with regular visitors to the pharmacy, listening to their stories and jokes. “They’re there because they are sick and not feeling well,” he said. “Part of my job is to lighten the load a little bit.”


The Red Cross is on more than 100 military installations and deployment sites worldwide. In times of emergency, the Red Cross helps military families communicate with their loved ones and facilitate their return home if there is an emergency through the Hero Care Network.


“It’s a call you never want to get when serving,” said Noltie about the Red Cross emergency communication through the Hero Care Network. “I got that phone call twice during active duty.”


The mission of the American Red Cross was born on the battlefield through Clara Barton’s care for Civil War soldiers. Today, we continue to serve the US military community from the time a service member takes the oath to navigating life as a veteran. Each year, the Red Cross provides around 471,000 services to members of the military, veterans and their families by leveraging a network of some 14,700 volunteers across the country and around the world.


Noltie encourages everyone to explore volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, especially through Service to the Armed Forces. Volunteers can support service members on base, at a V.A. hospital and more.


“You get back much more than you ever give,” Noltie said. “You get immediate satisfaction from seeing the people you help.”


To learn more about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, visit redcross.org/saf.

 

 

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