Red Cross continues to aid Camp Lejeune after 65 years

12 Dec 2008 | Cpl. Jessica Martinez

For more than 65 years, the America Red Cross has been taking care of Camp Lejeune’s service members and their families.

The American Red Cross has many services to offer, such as disaster relief, international services, volunteering, youth services, blood donations and health and safety services.

“We’re mainly here for emergency communication,” said Elizabeth Schirk, senior station manager with the American Red Cross branch on Camp Lejeune. “We run a volunteer program and offer after-hour assistance with the Navy-Marine Corps relief program.”

Since July, the Red Cross branch here has had 129 volunteers who contributed more than 8,868 hours of their time helping service members and their families. Volunteers are recruited from the community and include active duty members, their families, retirees and others from within the local community.

“We don’t require much of our volunteers,” said Schirk. “They must be motivated to help in the community. We want them to share the many skills they already possess and be willing to learn new ones.”

Volunteers with the Red Cross work at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, the medical clinic at New River, the dental clinics, the Wounded Warrior Battalion and the Red Cross office. They help conduct briefs, casework and moral support, as well as work in various leadership positions.

Each year, the American Red Cross acknowledges the Volunteer of the Quarter in all of the Continental United States. This year, Suzanne Klorig was honored as the first Caseworker of the Quarter for her services to military members which mostly include service members at Camp Lejeune and their families.

“It’s exciting to be appreciated for volunteer work that is necessary, but also very fun,” said Klorig, military spouse and caseworker with the American Red Cross branch at Camp Lejeune. “The three days a week I volunteer are my opportunity to interact with hundreds of military families in a very personal way. I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity in these challenging times.”

Caseworkers are required to complete a Red Cross National Headquarters course in casework and receive thorough on the job training from experienced Red Cross staff. Upon completion, the volunteer is certified as a Red Cross caseworker.

“Our caseworkers provide emergency and regular Red Cross messages, such as a child being born or when a parent is critically ill, between families and their military members, both at home and abroad,” said Schirk.

The skills volunteer caseworkers obtain can be used anywhere the Marine Corps takes them and their families. There are also paid positions available.

“I can take my skills anywhere the Red Cross touches and fit right in as a volunteer,” said Klorig. “So when we move, the transition will be that much easier. I can’t think of a better ‘win-win’ situation.”

Besides the valuable training Red Cross volunteers receive, it offers a special program for service members and their families who may not be able to meet certain costs in regard to an emergency situation.

“The Casualty Travel Assistance Program assists up to two family members with meeting the costs of travel to a military medical facility, if the family members’ presence has been requested by medical authorities and the military member,” said Schirk. “We will also assist with lodging expenses for up to six nights for travel to the bedside of a service member injured in a combat zone.”

CTAP can also fund up to two family members’ travel to attend a military funeral or memorial service for a service member who dies within the Central Command area of responsibility.

CTAP assistance is given in the form of a grant and is not required to be repaid.

The American Red Cross offers many services to the military, their families and the community. Anyone can volunteer, anyone can help.

“Our volunteers share a common thread,” said Schirk. “They ask for so little and give so much.”

For more information about CTAP or services the American Red Cross offers, get in touch with the local America Red Cross chapter or visit the organization’s Web site at