American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has a long history of providing service to members of America's military and their families during conflicts, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Beginning in the mid-1800s, Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, risked her life on the battlefields of the Civil War to tend to fallen soldiers. She nursed the wounded, wrote letters from wounded soldiers to their families and exerted every effort to get the critically ill and wounded to or near their families. She helped to keep the morale of the troops high. Clara Barton's compassionate services during the Civil War foreshadowed the great volunteer services later provided by the American Red Cross to members of the armed forces and their families and to veterans.

Service to the Armed Forces (SAF)

The American Red Cross links members of the U.S. Armed Forces with their families during a crisis.  Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross quickly sends emergency communications to deployed service members on behalf of their family.  Military members can have peace of mind knowing that when they are on a mission, in training or stationed far from home-and leaving cell phones and emails behind-they are still connected to home.

While providing service to 1.4 million active duty military personnel and their families, the Red Cross also reaches out to more than 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families living in nearly every community in America.

Red Cross workers in hundreds of chapters and on military installations briefed 974,573  departing service members and their families regarding available support services, and explained how the Red Cross may assist them during the deployment.

Both active duty and community-based military can count on the Red Cross to provide emergency communications that link them with their families back home, access to financial assistance in partnership with the military aid societies, information and referral and assistance to veterans.  Red Cross personnel form a global network in 700 U.S. chapters, military installations worldwide and in forward deployed locations in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Emergency Communications Services

When a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to help. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea and at embassies and remote locations.

Red Cross emergency communications services keep military personnel in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, the birth of a service member's child or grandchild or when a family faces other emergencies.

Where ever their military service takes them, he or she knows that the Red Cross will deliver notification in times of an emergency at home. Even if the service member receives an e-mail or phone call from home, Red Cross-verified information assists commanding officers with making a decision regarding emergency leave. Without this verification, the service member may not be able to come home during a family crisis.

Financial Assistance

The American Red Cross works under partnership agreements with the Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to provide quality, reliable financial assistance to eligible applicants 24/7/365. Types of assistance include financial assistance for emergency travel, burial of a loved one, assistance to avoid privation, etc.

Casualty Travel Assistance Program

The Casualty Travel Assistance Program (CTAP) provides travel assistance for two immediate family members to attend a memorial or funeral service for a service member killed on active duty in the combat zone and to travel to the bedside of a service member wounded in the combat zone.

Assistance includes funding for:

  • Round trip airfare
  • Lodging costs 
  • Food and incidentals 

Information and Referral Services

The American Red Cross offers confidential services to all military personnel- active duty, National Guard and Reserves-and their families. Counseling, guidance, information, referrals and other social services are available through our worldwide network of chapters and offices on military installations. Red Cross chapters are listed in local telephone books and at Your Local Red Cross.

As more and more National Guard and Reserve units are called to full-time duty status, counseling has become increasingly important to prepare the civilian-based military members and their families for the period of activation. Because members of the National Guard and Reserve typically live in civilian neighborhoods, they and their families frequently have difficulty accessing much-needed, military-related social services.

How to contact the Red Cross for assistance

Contact your local Red Cross chapter, which is listed in local telephone directory and at Your Local Red Cross,if you are:

  • Active duty members on leave
  • Family members of active duty service members who do not reside in the service members' household,
  • Members of the National Guard and Reserves,
  • Recruiters, MEPS military personnel and
  • Military retirees

When calling the Red Cross, please provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known:

  • Full name
  • Rank/rating
  • Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Social Security Account number or date of birth
  • Military address
  • Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)

Service for Veterans

For information and assistance, veterans and their families should contact their local Red Cross chapters, which are listed in local telephone books and can be found at Your Local Red Cross.

Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services

 Red Cross volunteer services to U.S. veterans date back to World War I and are consistent with the mission of its congressional charter. Today, the Red Cross is proud to maintain its commitment to the sick and disabled men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Your Opportunity to Serve?and Say ?Thanks? ? How You Can Help

Volunteers from Red Cross chapters and Red Cross offices on military installations serve in 153 VA hospitals around the nation. It is their way of saying thank-you to that special group of men and women who answered their country?s call and who are now cared for each day in VA medical centers. The opportunities for volunteers to meet the great needs in these centers include:

  • Transporting patients to and from treatment sessions
  • Working in libraries, bringing magazines, books, and comfort items to patients
  • Providing companionship and personal services to patients
  • Working in hospital offices, laboratories and at information desks
  • Raising funds to support veterans? activities and material needs
  • Participating in outreach opportunities in community-based outpatient clinics, nursing homes and home visitations

Both youth and adults can volunteer on a regularly scheduled basis or on an occasional basis working on special projects. Youth volunteers are especially welcome and are offered the same opportunities as adults. Regardless of how one serves, being able to reach out to these men and women has special rewards.

Veterans Claims for Benefits Assistance

The Red Cross provides assistance and information in preparing, developing, and obtaining sufficient evidence to support applicants? claims for veterans? benefits and also assists claimants who seek to appeal to the Board of Veterans? Appeals (BVA).  Red Cross staff at the BVA and a network of State Work-Share Representatives who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs work on behalf of the Red Cross to assist claimants.

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