YUMA, Ariz. – “Our mission in Red Cross Disaster Services is to provide comfort.”
That’s exactly what Thomas Batson does at The American Red Cross of Yuma and La Paz counties. With a network of generous community donors, volunteers and employees, they help facilitate disaster relief services all over the desert southwest and the world and who better to do it than a fellow veteran from Yuma County.
“I was first stationed here in 1979, I spent five years here that time and then I did a second tour here from 1994 to 1997. My last squadron was the ‘Black Sleep” so I’m still pretty proud of that. So I had the opportunity to come back here voluntarily, and jumped on it as soon as I could,” says Thomas Batson, who is a Disaster Program Specialist.
Every time a disaster strikes, Batson and his staff are equipped with the tools and supplies they need to save lives.
“We have cots, first aid kit, coolers, cleaning supplies, admin. stuff, tables, everything to set up a trailer and shelter,” he says.
Clothes, blankets and water are all donated by the community, which Thomas said is making a difference in how he does his job.
“My wife is a volunteer, my boys are volunteers, we do this as a family and of course the community for being so encouraging. The emergency managers Tony Padilla, the people over at the Cocopah Tribe, they have all been very supportive since I’ve gotten here,” Batson adds.
In a community full of military families and veterans, Batson’s time in the service reassured him that he was meant to come back.
Batson concludes, “I get to do it full time now. I was a volunteer since 2009, and I did a few deployments around the country and it has an impact on you. Helping people clear out after a hurricane, five of them to be exact. So when I retired from the military completely, this is the best way to give back. I feel like I’m still serving my country.”