By Allie Falender, American Red Cross
Last November, an Iraq veteran relocated with his family to Fort Hood. A few days later, their second child was born with a heart condition that required immediate surgery at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. The family was air-lifted to Houston for the surgery and told they would need to be there for four to six weeks. With no extended family in the area, the veteran contacted the Red Cross to ask for assistance with housing.
The young man was quickly put into contact with David Carpentier, Director, Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) and International Services, American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast. David, a veteran who served more than 31 years located housing for the family at the Ronald McDonald House. The veteran thought this was all that he needed, but David sat down with him in a fatherly way and helped put together a list of all of the things that his family would need over the next several weeks. David then helped the young man finance these needs with a grant and interest-free loan.
During a recent discussion about his work, Carpenter reflected on the importance of personal interaction. “We are about more than phone numbers and website addresses at the Red Cross,” he said. “Our veterans and military families deserve support and we have the opportunity to offer it.”
Carpentier is an example of why the American Red Cross has been selected as a Designated 2017 Military Friendly® Employer for offering the strongest job opportunities, hiring practices and retention programs for transitioning service members seeking civilian employment. Not only is he an example of successful transition from military to civilian life, he has applied his military experience to impact others in a positive way.
“Every day we make a difference,” said the soft-spoken vet with a smile. “It’s really why we do what we do.” His team offers services including emergency communications to active military members during times of personal crisis, partnership with veterans’ hospitals to offer therapy and hygiene kits called “Totes of Hope,” care packages for military members, financial aid in some instances and more. In calendar year 2016, the Texas Gulf Coast region SAF team provided more than 8,000 services to 3,900 military families and veterans.
Carpentier’s work on behalf of those who have served and sacrificed is not a surprise to Jose Perez, who was a member of his Afghanistan brigade in 2008. “David is a person of honor and integrity,” Perez recalled. “He’s tough, too. When he puts his mind into something, he’ll do it! He’s dedicated—you can be sure of that.”
The American Red Cross is fortunate to have him on board, but to modest Carpentier, it’s simply the right fit. “I know what it’s like to serve and how it feels when you come back. Military families and veterans share a bond that is hard to explain. I’m in a unique position to help and I’m glad I can do it.”