The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
A volunteer with the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross since January of 2012, David Compton is a military retiree with 21 years of active-duty service. His military service was one of the reasons Compton decided to become a Red Cross Volunteer. “When I came back from Viet Nam in 1968, America as a whole was not very receptive to the armed services” recalls David. “It’s good to be part of an organization such as the Red Cross that is very receptive and supportive towards members of our military.”
Compton serves as the Volunteer Lead for the SAF (Service to the Armed Forces) activities for the Mid-South Chapter. In this role he maintains information in the SAF database on new military recruits that is provided by the Military Entrance Processing Station in Memphis. He is dedicated to making sure that all new recruits and their families, as well as those going to and returning from deployment, are fully informed of the benefits available to them through the Red Cross, including emergency communication services. His volunteer work involves presentations at pre-deployment sessions and the reintegration program that is required of all returning National Guard and Reserve units. He also is available to present programs to local groups on the Red Cross SAF activities.
One of Compton’s major activities is heading up the Mid-South Chapter’s “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program, which contributes hand-made holiday cards to be distributed to military service members during the Christmas Holidays. He is very proud that last year the Mid-South Chapter contributed 19,631 cards, but not one to rest on past accomplishments, Compton is gearing up to be able to contribute some 40,000 cards this year.
Compton is also the newest DAT (Disaster Action Team) Captain for the Mid-South Chapter. In this role he serves as the primary go-to person every Monday for local emergencies in which families are displaced from their homes. On the average the Mid-South Chapter responds to just over two such calls a day, usually due to home fires, where it provides for the immediate needs of displaced residents. This typically involves short-term housing, financial support to replace essential clothing, food, and medical supplies, and emotional support.
Many other volunteers generously contribute their time and talents to assist Compton in both the SAF and DAT functions. “Both the full-time staff at the Mid-South Chapter and volunteers are outstanding”, said David. “They are dedicated to doing what they can to help others”. He would be most receptive to new volunteers who would like to assist him with the SAF and DAT functions. “Come and give it a try and see what works for you,” Compton encouraged.
Compton served as a chaplain while in the Army. In addition to one-on-one counseling, which is one of the primary roles of a military chaplain, he received extensive training in group dynamics and did a great deal of group training. During his 21 years in military service, Compton and his family made more than 20 moves as he served chaplaincy functions on military bases all across the United States, as well as stents in Vietnam and Europe. After his 21-year military service, Compton retired at the rank of Colonel and moved to Memphis to assume a position at Methodist Health Care as Deputy Director of Training and Development. Later he worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as Head of Training and Organizational Development.
Compton grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and attended college at Tennessee Tech University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and was President of the Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist Campus Ministry. He continued his education at Emory University School of Theology where he received the Master of Divinity Degree. During his military service, Compton continued his studies at the graduate level eventually receiving a Masters Degree in Religious Education and a third Masters Degree in Management Technology.
Compton and his wife reside in Germantown, Tennessee and have two children and three grandchildren: a son, who is a novelist with three books to his credit, lives in Ireland, and a daughter, who is a 3rd-grade teacher, lives in Germantown. All of his grandchildren are in college, two of them at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and a third, his granddaughter, will graduate this month from University College Dublin, Ireland, with a degree in Library and Information Science.
Story Updated August 5, 2013
Story and Photo Credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross