The senior station manager at Fort Hood’s Red Cross is heading out for a six-month deployment to Djibouti, a small country in east Africa.
“It’s similar to the military,” said Mary Basiliere, who has worked at Fort Hood for the past two years. “When we are hired on as mobile service to the Armed Forces staff, what we are agreeing to is maintain our physical fitness and immunizations, that we will deploy when and where we are needed, and that our work location will be where needed.”
In Djibouti, Basiliere said she will be working at a Navy installation doing much of the same work she does stateside — hosting first aid and CPR training, providing morale-boosting activities and operating an emergency messaging system.
“Today we have 24-7 global telecommunications system, and we help keep families connected during times of emergency,” said Peter Macias, spokesperson for the American Red Cross.
Basiliere has 23 years experience with the Red Cross, both volunteer and paid, and has seen firsthand how the emergency contact system can impact the lives of service members.
During her first deployment to Iraq, she said the Red Cross office delivered a message to a service member to alert him his father was gravely ill.
“He got his message really quickly,” Basiliere said. “When he returned from leave, he returned to the office to say his father passed away, but he got there five hours before. Had his family not contacted us ... he would not have got home to say goodbye. To me that is an important reason to do that.”
After a week of training at Fort Bliss and two days of traveling, Basiliere said she will arrive in Djibouti, working as a one-person team. She’s also worked in Japan and Iraq. Once the mission is complete, she’ll return to Fort Hood.
“If you’ve had to use Red Cross services and have family members in the military, you know that we deploy,” Basiliere said. “But most people don’t really realize we deploy with our troops. The only place we don’t deploy with them is on a submarine. Even there, there is designated Red Cross representative.”
Until she returns, the Fort Hood Red Cross will continue to operate with a Red Cross reservist — a trained temporary employee to fill the position.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the American Red Cross to be able to serve our military community in deployed and forward locations,” Basiliere said. “It’s important to have continuity to know they can go to the Red Cross here at Fort Hood, Texas, or Djibouti or Afghanistan. It’s some continuity for them and I think that’s very important for our families to know we are there for them, regardless of where they are.”