This weekend as we celebrate Armed Forces Day, the American Red Cross continues to show our appreciation to those serving in the five branches of the military – the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and those serving in reserve units, by being there to support them wherever they are and whenever they need us.
For more than 130 years, the Red Cross has provided critical services to military members, veterans and their families. The Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) staff link military families during an emergency, connect families with local resources, provide resiliency training, and support wounded warriors and military hospitals.
Often, SAF staff go above and beyond their job description to help meet the needs of our service members and their families. John Hirsh, the regional executive director of the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is among such staff.
COMMITTED RED CROSS STAFF Months ago, a 68-year-old man died in his apartment building in Saipan. Police could not locate any friends or family.
“After an unsuccessful search for next of kin by the Attorney General's office and local police, a detective from the police department called me to see if I could help,” said Hirsh. “I was able to confirm that he had been in the U.S. military (Vietnam) and had several addresses in the mainland.”
Hirsh went to work, researching a lead in the greater New York area through online search engines and social media. He almost gave up, but thankfully for the man’s family, he wasn’t quite done yet. He tried three different email addresses, and luckily, one was correct. Just two hours after clicking send, the son of the deceased man called the chapter where Hirsh worked.
“He wept over the phone about his father and could hardly believe that I had found him,” said Hirsh. “He (the son) had not spoken to his father in 20 years.”
Recently Hirsh received a thank you note from the deceased man’s ex-wife, and mother of his son, thanking him for going to great lengths to find and assist them.
SERVICE TO THE ARMED FORCES The Red Cross services for veterans date back to World War I and remain consistent with the mission of the organization.
The Red Cross offers confidential services to all military veterans and their families by connecting them with Red Cross, national, state and local resources through our network of chapters in communities across the United States and offices on military installations worldwide.
Veterans and their families rely on the Red Cross to help them identify their needs and connect them to the most appropriate Red Cross assistance and other resources. This key Red Cross service ranges from responding to emergency needs for food, clothing, and shelter, referrals to counseling services (e.g., financial, legal, jobs, mental health), information on veterans cemeteries and burial benefits, and other resources that meet the unique needs of local veterans and their families.
Today, the Red Cross is proud to maintain its commitment to the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
For more information, visit the Service to the Armed Forces webpage on redcross.org.