By Betsy Robertson

One of the lesser known but most appreciated services the American Red Cross provides is to the men, women and family members of our military. As the nation prepared to remember and honor these individuals on Veterans Day 2016, supporters of the American Red Cross in South Puget Sound hosted an event to raise awareness of and provide support for our local Service to Armed Forces (SAF) efforts.

“It’s one of the services our organization was founded on and is particularly important to our team here in the South Sound,” said Bonnie Bush, South Sound Red Cross executive director. “We are the chapter that surrounds both Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and Camp Murray and want to make sure everyone stationed in our community knows we are here to support them.”

That support was echoed by around 50 people who attended a special event November 10 at the Tacoma Golf and Country Club. The 4th Annual Sip & Sign featured presentations by Red Cross volunteer Amanda Hackbarth, her therapy dog, Jax, and Command Sergeant Major Michael Grinston from JBLM. The evening celebrated decades of partnership and a renewed commitment.

Sandy Mama, Melanie Bagby and Bonnie Bush deliver the gifts they collected to “Santa’s Castle” at JBLM

Guests composed more than 100 cards that will be delivered on base this holiday season. They also gathered a trunk full of items that will be donated to Santa’s Castle at JBLM – a program providing Christmas gifts to children of military families experiencing financial difficulties.

About the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces:

  • The Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families since 9/11
  • Volunteers provide home comforts and critical services on bases and in military hospitals around the world
  • The Red Cross supports military families during deployments and emergencies
  • The Red Cross continues serving our nations veterans after their active duty service ends

For more information about SAF or if you are in need of support, please go to: For more information about the JBLM Sant Castle, please visit:

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