Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebrating Armed Forces Day and National Mental Health Month: A Veteran Serves His Own

Written by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor

Mike Booth has a wonderfully eclectic professional and volunteer history that comes together in his work at the Red Cross. That’s why it is perfect to feature this volunteer and veteran in May, the month when we celebrate Armed Forces Day as well as National Mental Health Month.

Mike is a military veteran who works at the Red Cross as a mental health case worker.

Mike was in ROTC for the navy. He was a service officer in the reserve and had two years active duty in three campaigns on the U.S.S. Ute, ATF 76.

“My dad was in the Navy during World War II, and I figured it’s the best way to give back to my country, so I joined the Navy,” he said.

After his tour of duty, Mike took on several roles in the automotive industry, including GM, PeterBilt Motors and Freightliner Company. He then got his degree in counseling and began helping people in a new way.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, he responded to the Red Cross’ call for volunteers.

“I went down to Reunion Center and said ‘I can help,” he said.

“The Red Cross is like stepping in quick sand,” he explained. “It sucks you in. I’ve been a volunteer ever since.

Now Mike is part of the mental health leadership team for the Dallas Metroplex. In this role, Mike facilitates reconnection workshops for military personnel coming back from deployment and their families. He also works one-on-one with veterans and does our Yellow Ribbon trainings.

“I like the people,” he said. “I like to be able to do things that are useful. I get the opportunity to be there for people.”

He’s been there for people affected by hurricanes, fires and floods. Most recently he was deployed to Tyler to help with the wildfires.

He is able to join his clinical skills with his military background to help servicemen and women cope with deployment and reconnection.

“My military background helps me understand what it’s like to live in a military environment and what it’s like to deploy,” he said. “It isn’t exactly the same, but I understand some of what they’re going through.

“My combination of knowing about living in military and my clinical skills in working back and forth with people seems to be extremely helpful to people. Occasionally it seems to make a difference.”

We all know it’s far more than occasionally.

We salute Mike and all of his fellow veterans and volunteers for the work they do for our servicemen and woman and those affected by disaster.

To learn more about our Services to the Armed Forces program, visit

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