Colonel Patricia Chappell treasures the years she spent in the US Air Force and Department of Defense. She had a thirty-year career in Health Care and Clinical Services as a Flight Nurse and serving in several senior positions planning and coordinating DOD programs.
“We were a family, my military family, and no matter where I was stationed my family was there,” said Colonel Chappell. “The other thing we shared was our sense of duty and dedication to our mission. That was really a common thread that connected my colleagues and I for all the years I served.”
It is that same focus on the mission and sharing with others that attracted Colonel Chappell to volunteer with the American Red Cross. Now retired from the Air Force, she joined the ranks of Red Cross volunteers in 2004 at the urging of a friend at the Air Force Academy near Chappell’s home in Colorado Springs. She was trained as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member and then was promoted to DAT Captain. “Responding to house fires at all hours of the day and night, helping to provide American Red Cross emergency relief to families who had lost their homes, was one of the most meaningful and rewarding things I’ve ever done,” said Chappell. “The experiences I had as a DAT member ‘hooked me’ on the mission of the Red Cross.”
Since 2004 Chappell has served in many roles as part of the Red Cross disaster relief effort, and is now the Chair of the State Consortium for Disaster Services – Readiness and Response for Colorado. She is also a volunteer Board member with the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross, and uses her military organization and coordination skills to play a direct role in Red Cross disaster response efforts in the state.
The High Park Fire broke out near Fort Collins on June 9, scorching thousands of acres of forest and destroying hundreds of homes. Even though her own home in the Mountain Shadow community west of Colorado Springs was threatened by another major wildfire, Chappell left and went to Fort Collins on June 14 to direct the massive Red Cross disaster relief effort there. She served in the role of job director until June 20, and continues as the deputy job director as Red Cross disaster relief efforts continue to support those impacted by this natural tragedy.
“I have been very fortunate,” said Chappell. “I have learned that my home escaped the fire that swept through the Mountain Shadow Community, and I will be able to return to it once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, however, the Red Cross and I have an important job to do here in Fort Collins.”
The American Red Cross is fortunate to have dedicated, trained and experienced military veterans just like Colonel Chappell to help carry out the mission of helping others in their times of need. The Red Cross is indebted to all of our military veterans and thanks them on this July 4th Independence Day