GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After 17 years in the Michigan Army National Guard, Tony Gerheiser decided to continue his service by helping veterans in West Michigan.
For the past eight years, the former sergeant has been working with the West Michigan branch of the American Red Cross to supply aid and resources to veterans, active duty military and their families.
“Being the executive director and being able to see the progress we’ve been able to make in our veteran community has been phenomenal,” Gerheiser said. “Being able to provide them resources to the community, veteran community and those families is extremely instrumental in what we’re able to do and be able to support them through the transition of service.”
The West Michigan Red Cross location helps over 240,000 military members and their families each and every year through different methods, according to Gerheiser.
“In relation to our veteran community and active duty military, we provide them with emergency communication services. That way they know who to call when something happens,” he said. “Very similar to how our DAT (Disaster Action Team) Team responds to a home fire.”
Gerheiser was named the executive director of the branch back in September. He previously worked with the Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces program. He said he’s now focused on continuing to educate members of the armed forces on the services the nonprofit provides to them.
He was doing that even before joining the Red Cross officially and while he was deployed overseas.
“I remember when I was in Poland a few years back and I was able to help three soldiers get back home. And through that process, I connected them with the American Red Cross while I was serving with them,” he said. “Being able to educate them and what they can do to contact the American Red Cross, have their families reach out and build that Red Cross message that we can get them home during emergencies.”
Gerheiser encourages anyone who wishes to help with these efforts to volunteer with the Red Cross. You can find more information on those opportunities by clicking here.