CSM Richard Seymour during his time with the U.S. Army.
November 10, 2017
Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
For Richard Seymour, finding his next project after retirement from a 30-year career with the United States Army was surprisingly easy. “I was sitting with my wife reading the paper one day,” recalls Richard, “and she saw a job ad and said ‘this is what you’re doing right now! Why not pick up where you left off?’”
The position was services to the armed forces director with the American Red Cross Wisconsin Region. In this role, Richard supports veterans and military members through financial aid, VA state home and hospital support, programming, and helping with efforts like the annual Homeless Stand Down, a resource fair similar to Project Homeless Connect, but aimed at veterans.
In his military position as command sergeant major, Richard supported military members by monitoring their health and welfare and ensuring they were properly trained and prepared for duty. “The Red Cross job was a natural fit,” says Richard, “as command sergeant major, my job was to take care of soldiers and their family members – something I was passionate about and get to continue to do in this new role.”
When he enlisted in the Army, Richard did not anticipate a 30-year career: “I was working in a restaurant and just wanted a change. My original intent was to do four years, get out and go to college, but every time reenlistment came around, I found myself putting my name down.”
Richard Seymour with a group of colleagues from American Red Cross Wisconsin Region.
Richard’s military career took him all over the world, from Panama in his early years, to participation in Desert Storm and the Gulf War, to several tours of Iraq. “Seeing different countries and cultures really made me appreciate the meaning of poverty and those who give their time to make a difference,” says Richard.
Celebrating one year on the job, Richard reflects on a project from this summer that stayed with him. “We would take veterans at the VA hospital in Tomah, WI fishing every other Saturday,” says Richard, “10-25 inpatient vets in their wheelchairs would come to a pond on VA property to fish and tell stories. Some liked it so much that they would get a tear in their eye when we said we would be back in two weeks. It was amazing the difference such a simple effort made.”
Veterans Day, celebrated each year on November 11th, is a great time to reflect on how we can support those who served. When asked how the community can support veterans, Richard keeps it simple: “Just acknowledge and thank them. A lot of people make huge sacrifices to serve their country – it’s a way of life – and it’s always good to know you’re appreciated.”
Check out the work of United Way program partner American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin and browse our volunteer website to see how you get involved and support veterans.