By Stacey Eddington Moore, American Red Cross
It was the 1970s in Corpus Christi, Texas, Linda Diaz and her family lived off-base near Naval Air Station Corpus Christi where her father served as 1st Sergeant in the U.S. Army. On this particular school day, as Linda and her four siblings raced out the door to begin their walk to school, their mother reminded them to be home promptly after class. This was the day their father, who was on deployment, would be calling home. Through tears, Linda remembers these special calls. Each one lasted around five minutes; not much time for her father to ask questions about school and visit with each family member. It was a different era, one without smartphones and Skype, but the immense pride a young Linda felt is similar to the children of military families today.
“Before his deployments, I remember my mother pressing my father’s shirts while he shined his shoes. He was a proud man and always explained why he had to leave. I knew why he was going, and I knew it was for a very important reason,” Linda recalled.
Linda grew up in a structured and organized household. Each child had specific chores and duties. “We walked a straight line,” Linda laughed. “He showed us how to make our beds, how to organize our closets. We kept charts with our duties listed. Everything was always in place. As a child, you want to rebel against that sometimes but I know why he did that and it carried over into my adult life, helping me appreciate structure and the importance of organization. I get it now.”
The strong convictions and patriotic spirit Linda witnessed growing up were soon realized in her adult life. She worked for the U.S. Navy for four years as a clinical counselor, aiding families of deployed service men and women. The desire to serve her community, especially those serving in the military, later drove Linda to volunteer with the American Red Cross. Today she serves as a Facilitator with the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF), engaging with members of the military, veterans and their families to help prepare for, cope with, and respond to the challenges of military life. Her work has recently taken her to North Carolina and Georgia, and later Dallas, where she addressed a church congregation where nearly half the members have family who have been deployed.
“Our military is a beacon of light for freedom. I love them and I feel for their families because I lived it as well. I want to support these families and my work with the Red Cross lets me do that,” Linda said.
Linda is proud that her military upbringing and the values her father taught her led her to the Red Cross SAF. She believes in the honor and integrity of military service people and the importance of providing them support during and after deployment.
“It takes a village. We all have to work together on our goals to bring our service people home and prepare them for life after service. I am so proud of our country, so proud of the Red Cross. My father spent his entire career giving his time and energy to helping others, and that example gave me a passion to do the same.”