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How to Contact a Service Member in an Emergency

SAF Communication

The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces helps families keep in touch with loved ones serving in the military through its Emergency Communications Services.

All day, every day the Red Cross relays urgent messages to service members stationed anywhere in the world, even on ships at sea, at embassies and even remote locations. This can include good news like the birth of someone’s child or information about the death or serious illness of an immediate family member.

Red Cross workers verify the information in the message and relay an accurate and complete description of the emergency to the member of the military. While some information can be relayed via email or a phone call from home, the Red Cross information assists the person serving in the military and their commanding officers when making decisions regarding emergency leave.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE? The American Red Cross Emergency Communications Center is available to help seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Current members of the military or their family should call toll-free (877) 272-7337.
  • This includes anyone on active duty in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard.
  • Activated members of the National Guard and Reserve of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are also eligible for help.
  • We can also assist a civilian employed or under contract to the Department of Defense who is stationed outside the continental United States, or any family residing with them.
  • We can also help a military retiree or their spouse or widow(er), a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, an ROTC cadet on orders for training, or a Merchant Marine aboard a U.S. Naval Ship.
  • WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED? When placing an emergency communication call for assistance, the caller should have the following information:

  • The service member’s full, legal name
  • Their rank or rating.
  • Their branch of service.
  • The service member’s Social Security number, date of birth and military unit address.
  • If the person is deployed, information about the deployed unit and home base unit.
  • For more information about how the Red Cross supports our country’s members of the military, veterans and their families, visit the Service to the Armed Forces information on this web site.

    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.