SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A new call center at the Red Cross of Western Massachusetts is dedicated to the original cause of the organization: serving those who serve our country.
“Our founder [Clara Barton] was a battlefield field nurse Clara Barton and over 130 years ago she established our Red Cross to serve our wounded warriors. And we’re still serving our wounded warriors today,” said Koby Langley, Senior Vice President for Service to the Armed Forces at the American Red Cross.
An emergency services call center in Springfield was on the verge of closing last year, but has instead expanded. The American Red Cross Center of Excellence for Financial Assistance at the facility in Springfield will provide financial support, financial education, and hope to veterans, service members and family, 24/7.
“They have difficulty with utilities or might just need a small loan for a small period of time, those calls will come here to Springfield, Massachusetts. The Wounded Warriors who might need some financial assistance, will call here,” said Langley.
The center is one of just three of its type in the whole country, and they answer calls not just from people in western Massachusetts, or across the country, but around the world. The Red Cross is the only organization outside the military that notifies a soldier of an emergency, offers transportation home and financial services in a time of crisis. The center’s manager Cindy Bocash gave 22News an example of how it works. She said a widow would call for help after her veteran husband passed away, but benefits didn’t kick in yet. “Hook her up with the organization that’s able to assist her, and do a budget, talk her through it, get her the funds, pay the bills, make sure she’s taken care of, until she’s able to get the insurance and other benefits,” Bocash explained.
Langley said a lack of financial literacy is the third leading cause of homelessness among veterans and one of the leading causes of suicide in the military. Those in need get financial help from military aid societies, some federal grants and private donors.