FORT RILEY — The Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Regional Leadership Team visited Fort Riley Nov. 29 and 30 to meet with soldiers, volunteers and American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces staff members.
Jill Orton, chief executive officer, Kevin Zuroski, director, and Richard Dinsdale, communications director, toured the new Irwin Army Community Hospital and spoke with staff members and soldiers at the facility. The leadership team also visited with soldiers and staff at the Warrior Transition Battalion.
At each location, they discussed medical needs and services they could help provide or improve upon through the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.
“As to better understand my entire region and particularly the line of service of our services to armed forces and our military families, I wanted firsthand knowledge and experience of being on the bases that we serve,” Orton said.
Fort Riley is a part of the Kansas, Nebraska and Southwest Iowa region for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, which is the largest of the regions within its division. Of the three installations included in the region, Fort Riley is by far the largest and most active, Zuroski said.
“Our region has the largest SAF, Service to the Armed Forces, footprint,” Orton said.
During their tour of IACH, the leadership team met with Col. John Melton, IACH commander, to discuss ways to further integrate and connect the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces with the medical professionals at IACH. They also discussed future services and areas that needed work that the Red Cross personnel could or currently do provide.
“For me, being the regional director, it’s important to understand what we can deliver and what our clients want and how can we meet those expectations,” Zuroski said. “It’s important to have that face-to-face communication to understand the relationship that we have with the military community.”
Dinsdale and Zuroski both said they were impressed with the technology and medical services available at IACH and through the teamwork of IACH and Red Cross staffs. They added the contrast between the historic buildings and modern facilities on Fort Riley were stunning and showed how historic and important the installation was.
“It’s very interesting to see what the Red Cross is doing for service members,” Dinsdale said. “We had a great tour this afternoon of the new hospital … I love the contrast between the old … with the brand new beautiful medical facility, it’s amazing.”
The Fort Riley community and the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces team have a close relationship and several partnerships with other organizations at Fort Riley. Orton said she was surprised, but grateful to see how intertwined the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces team and Fort Riley community have become.
“It’s a joy to see what a strong foothold that the Red Cross has and how well respected we are and not just from a brand perspective, but everybody knows Becky (LaPolice, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces regional manager) and Leslie (Jones, regional program specialist) and the volunteers here,” she said.
However, Orton’s favorite thing about the visit was getting to see their volunteers, staff and meet with some representatives from the community partner organizations.
“To be able to see our workforce, both paid and volunteer, how we connect in the community with our community partners, so that we can be good community partners and build upon community resiliency,” Orton said.
The leadership team’s visit wasn’t just about meeting community partners and talking with Soldiers, it was an opportunity for Dinsdale, Zuroski and Orton to learn where strengths and weaknesses lie. Dinsdale, who became the communications director three weeks ago, said the visit showed him areas where they could improve in building awareness of services.
For Orton, she said they will begin working toward connecting branches of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces within their region to better support one another.
Zuroski agreed with Dinsdale and Orton’s observations and added one of their key areas is making sure they are always prepared to meet the needs of the community.
“We have to be able to adjust to meet the needs of the community and that’s really where the volunteer comes in and helps make us flexible,” he said.
For more information about the Fort Riley American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, visit www.redcross .org/ local /kansas or www.facebook.com/Fort-Riley-American-Red-Cross-115213635232800.