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Coming Home in Times of Need: Service to the Armed Forces

Service to the Armed Forces

The American Red Cross has an unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families. This support comes into play in many different situations, but is especially poignant when the strength of a family is tested after a close family member passes.

On March 19, the Curtis family of Hastings, Michigan, learned of a death in the family. With the passing of her mother-in-law, and grandmother to her two children, Linda Curtis knew she needed to start making plans for the funeral.

One of Curtis’s toughest hurdles in preparing for the funeral was gathering her immediate family for the service. Her son, Ryan, was stationed with the Marines nearly 1,000 miles away in Mississippi. Ryan had been on two tours of duty, including one in Afghanistan, and was now studying to join the Marine aviation program. After learning of the grandmother’s passing, Curtis quickly called her son and asked him what he wanted to do about the funeral.

“He wanted to come home for his dad because he knows the importance of being ‘family strong,’” said Curtis. “He told me to call the Red Cross.”

The next morning, Curtis contacted her local Red Cross to use the Emergency Communication Services, hoping to have her son return home for the funeral. The Red Cross then contacted Ryan’s commanding officer in Mississippi to request an official leave of absence so Ryan could attend the funeral. By that evening, Ryan was cleared to come home.

“I was so thrilled. He had a flight by that night,” said Curtis. “It was a blessing that he was able to come home and get closure where he could say goodbye to his grandmother.”

The next day, Ryan was on a flight home to reunite with his grieving family and say farewell to his grandmother. He attended the funeral that weekend alongside his mother, father, sister and wife—a former Marine herself.

Like the Marines, the Curtis family knows the importance of sticking together. Every day, the American Red Cross ensures that during life’s trying circumstances, military families like the Curtis family can be at each other’s side and find comfort in being family strong.

“I thank the Red Cross for reaching out and being there for us—especially my husband and especially for Ryan,” said Curtis. “I’m just very grateful to the Red Cross. It all worked out perfectly.”

If you would like more information on the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces efforts, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.