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This Army Retiree Spouse Has Volunteered for 60 Years

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Michael Vela, executive director, San Antonio Red Cross Chapter, presents Gretchen Barrett with the Clara Barton Legacy Award for outstanding leadership and volunteerism during a ceremony March 7, 2019 at Brooke Army Medical Center. The 92-year-old began volunteering in 1958 in Stuttgart, Germany and continued her volunteer career in San Antonio in 1969 at the Beach Pavilion on Fort Sam Houston. (U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards)
Michael Vela, executive director, San Antonio Red Cross Chapter, presents Gretchen Barrett with the Clara Barton Legacy Award. The 92-year-old began volunteering in 1958 in Stuttgart, Germany and continued her volunteer career in San Antonio in 1969 at the Beach Pavilion on Fort Sam Houston. (U.S. Army/Jason W. Edwards)

A long-time Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas volunteer was honored by the American Red Cross March 7 for more than 60 years of service.

Gretchen Barrett, BAMC patient transfer volunteer, received the Clara Barton Legacy Award during a ceremony in the hospital's Medical Mall. The 92-year-old began volunteering in 1958 in Stuttgart, Germany and continued her volunteer career in San Antonio in 1969 at the Beach Pavilion on Fort Sam Houston.

"This is a great opportunity to recognize someone who has volunteered for the Red Cross and the military for quite a while," said BAMC Commanding General Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller. "This is a phenomenal achievement and we are blessed to have people like this who really do wonderful things for our service members and their families."

The general put it in perspective by talking about other events that took place in 1958.

"Eisenhower was president; that's the year we signed Alaska into the United States; Elvis Presley was brought into the military; and most importantly, that was the year the hula hoop was first marketed," Appenzeller said with a smile.

Michael Vela, executive director, San Antonio Red Cross Chapter, presented Barrett with a plaque and a 60-year Red Cross lapel pin featuring a sapphire stone.

"It is my honor to present you with the Clara Barton Legacy Award for outstanding leadership and volunteerism," Vela said. "Like Clara, the founder of the American Red Cross, Gretchen has dedicated much of her life to the service of others, specifically our nation's military.

"Since the Civil War, American Red Cross volunteers have provided comfort and support throughout the world to military members and their families," he added. "Gretchen, thank you for your long, distinguished and dedicated service to the American Red Cross and to our nation's military."

Barrett said she began volunteering in Germany as a young military spouse and continued as she got older.

"My children were just babies when I started," she said. "My husband was in the infantry."

Henry Roper, regional program manager, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, presented Barrett with a Red Cross flag.

"I've been with the Red Cross for quite a while and I have never given out a Red Cross flag," Roper said, noting the honor it conveys.

Several other officials from the American Red Cross came to congratulate Barrett on her accomplishment, including Dudley Baker, Division Service to the Armed Forces director; Michael Chaison, Division Service to the Armed Forces manager; Wade Walrond, Service to the Armed Forces regional program director; Kate Koebbe, Service to the Armed Forces specialist; and Libby Castillo, regional communications officer.

"This is a rare day for someone who has given most of their life in service of others," Baker said. "It's truly amazing and I'm honored just to be here."

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