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The American Red Cross Provides Reassuring Link for Military Personnel and Families
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Jenny Agee-Aldridge
April 3, 2008

The Red Cross delivers emergency communication messages on behalf of family members to members of the United States Armed Forces serving anywhere in the world, to include ships at sea, embassies and isolated military units. For American service members, the Red Cross is a trusted and reliable link that joins more than 1,000 military families each day with emergency communication messages regarding serious illness, the death of a loved one or the good news of the birth of a child. A Red Cross message with the verification of the emergency assists the service member's command in making a decision regarding emergency leave.

"There is no greater reward than knowing that you made one soldier's life just a little bit easier, even if only for a moment," said Susanne Harlandt, a Red Cross staff member who is currently deployed overseas in Iraq to deliver emergency communication messages to the troops. "To service members, that moment becomes an eternal memory, and it makes a difference in their ability to get through one more day."

The Red Cross assisted Melissa and Carlos Castellanos during a difficult time. Just 13 days after her husband deployed to Iraq, Melissa began having complications with her pregnancy. She was admitted to the hospital due to the complications related to her pregnancy and was told by her doctor that her baby may not make it. Although she had the support of her family, Melissa needed her husband during this difficult and emotional time. Following her mother-in-law's advice, Melissa called the Red Cross to notify and to request the presence of her husband on emergency leave because of the medical condition of their baby.

"From that very first phone call, 48 hours later, the Red Cross had him [Carlos] at my hospital bed," Melissa said. Four days later, their son Hayden was born, weighing one pound, one ounce. Melissa credits the Red Cross with bringing her family together at this very important time in their life.

"I think the fact that Carols was with me allowed me to hang onto the baby in my uterus for a few days longer. And every day that I did not deliver and kept him inside me there was a better chance that he would be okay," she said.

How to access Red Cross assistance

  • Active duty service members stationed in the United States and their immediate family members may call the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Centers for help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The toll-free telephone number is 877-272-7337. Overseas personnel stationed on military installations should call the base or installation operator or in selected locations the on-base Red Cross office.
  • Other family members who do not reside in the service members' household, members of the National Guard and Reserves, retirees and civilians may access Red Cross services through their local Red Cross chapter, which is listed in local telephone books and at http://www.redcross.org/where/where.html.

When calling the Red Cross to send an emergency communication message to a service member, please have the following information regarding the service member:

  • Service member's full name
  • Service member's rank/rating
  • Service member's branch of service
  • Service member's Social Security Account Number
  • Service member's military address
  • Additional information about the deployed unit and the home base unit (for deployed service members only)

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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