Award2By Mark Walker

Master Sgt. Holly Williamson was worried.

It was March of 2016, and the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces specialist for the Spokane region got word she was being called to active duty and set to deploy to Qatar for six months.

But the Air National Guard reservist was just a few months into her Red Cross job when the deployment order came.

“I didn’t know the deployment was coming, I had a lot on my plate and was concerned about leaving,” Williamson said.


Not to worry, Red Cross officials assured Williamson: her job would await her return and the services she was providing to members of the Armed Services and their families would continue.

To help make that happen, officials including Red Cross regional Chief Operating Officer Chris Von Seele approved her plan to place a trusted volunteer in her position until she returned from overseas.

“Chris was supportive every step of the way and was always there for me, before, during and after the deployment,” she said.


As a result of that support, the Red Cross and Steele were presented Wednesday (Aug. 29, 2018) with a 2018 U.S. Department of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The honor recognizes employers of Guard and reservists that provide exceptional support to warrior-citizens.

The award was presented during a Red Cross board meeting and accepted by Von Seele on behalf of the organization.

Award6“It means a lot to be nominated for this award,” said Von Seele. “Service to the military is in the DNA of our organization. We work hard to provide ongoing, meaningful programs and resources to the military community. This recognition is a reminder that we are part of that community ourselves. We will always welcome Veterans, Guard and Reserve who are interested in joining our ranks.”

For more information on the Washington branch of the Guard and Reserve Employer Outreach Program, see the website


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