Larry Martens from Arkansas has volunteered for the American Red Cross as a Disaster Mental Health counselor for several disasters around the country and is now serving in Houston for the spring floods. As a retired addiction therapist at the VA, he has seen the long-term emotional devastation that trauma can leave on a person, but his current passion is the mental health of children who have lived through a disaster.
“Children don’t have the words to express their feelings,” says Larry. “They act out and get in trouble, and their parents and teachers may not understand why.” He explains that children measure their safety through their parents and their homes, so when the home is damaged or destroyed and their parents are under stress, their whole world is turned on its head.
The Red Cross is able to team with community partners like schools, churches and other social service agencies to get resources and information out to parents and other caregivers about mental health for children, which is why Larry is such a passionate volunteer and such an advocate for the people he serves. “It’s so important that we remember the children. They’re why I’m here.”