When 200 plus bicyclists venture out on the Ride for the Red this year, Matthew Weinburke will be at the head of the pack. “It was a challenging ride due to the hills and heat,” he said of last year’s ride, but he is not deterred. “This was a really good experience. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this event, meeting other people, and getting back into shape.”
The Ride for the Red is an amazing cycling event that takes riders through beautiful Ventura County. With three scenic courses to choose – 30 miles, 65 miles or 100 miles – there is something for riders of all levels. There are periodic rest stops along the route to support the riders and a BBQ lunch when the ride is complete.
“This was a really good experience, meeting other people, and getting back into shape.”
This year’s event takes place on November 12, 2022, the Saturday of Veteran’s Day weekend. The ride benefits Service to the Armed Forces, a Red Cross organization that helps members of the military, veterans, and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service. The Red Cross is the only military service organization that supports military families from the day they enlist through their time as a veteran.
The Red Cross’s Service to the Armed Forces is near and dear to Weinburke. He served in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and then the US Army as a Medical Service and Environmental Health Officer. He continued in public service after the military, joining the US Public Health Service (USPHS). He worked in Yosemite National Park for six years and then transferred to the USPHS headquarters in Rockville, Maryland until his retirement in 2020. He then moved back to Central California with his family so his kids could attend universities in the state.
Weinburke came to the Red Cross because he wanted to contribute to the community and volunteer his services. His desire was to “continue with the values learned in the USPHS of leadership, integrity, excellence, and service.”
He initially started with the Red Cross in the Biomedical Volunteer Workforce, supporting the national team by training bio-med staff and volunteers. Then Weinburke completed the Services to Armed Forces (SAF) International Humanitarian Law (IHL) basic instructor course. This position supports the Regional Service to the Armed Forces department. International Humanitarian Law (IHL) applies during times of armed conflict and seeks to protect persons who are not or are no longer participating in the armed conflict and to restrict the means and methods of warfare.
Weinburke is also making sure his skills acquired from public health responses to natural disasters are not going to waste. He volunteered in Mass Care and Shelter Response during the Creek fire and continues to assist with logistical and maintenance functions locally. He also continues training so that he will be prepared to help out should his skills be required at another disaster response.
Weinburke currently volunteers with the Red Cross Compassionate Care program through the VA. Compassionate Care reps take training provided through the Veterans Administration. His duties include calling a Vietnam veteran once a week, providing communication, active listening, and compassionate care. He has been doing this since October of 2021.
Serving with the Red Cross, Weinburke has been able to utilize his experiences in the uniformed services and specifically the medical and public health field. “The Red Cross is a rewarding experience and there are numerous things one can do,” he said. “Also, leadership continues to acknowledge what we are doing as volunteers.”
By Dave Wagner, Public Affairs Volunteer