Although Armed Forces Week is a modern-day celebration, the relationship between the American Red Cross and the U.S. military stretches back more than a century.
Clara Barton’s work during the Civil War, including helping wounded soldiers write letters to loved ones back home, forever linked the Red Cross with our country’s armed forces. The spirit of Barton’s work lives on through what is now Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF).
The American Red Cross has provided help and support to troops and their families during every major conflict of the past century, including both world wars, the Vietnam War and present-day operations in Afghanistan.
Red Cross SAF workers are present at more than 50 military installations around the world, including in forward-deployed locations. Through these military installations and the network of Red Cross chapters across the country, the Red Cross works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to relay emergency messages to deployed service members, including those in remote locations and on ships at sea.
Red Cross staff also provide support at military and veterans hospitals. Red Cross volunteer teams meet wounded troops as they arrive and are there to provide information, comfort items and food for patients and their families. These volunteers visit wounded, ill or injured patients throughout their stay to deliver items such as toiletries, quilts, phone cards, books and computer games.
In light of the increased pressure on military families due to repeat deployments, the Red Cross has also developed programs to better serve families’ needs. Free courses, including Coping With Deployments and the Reconnection Workshops, were designed to address the challenges that troops and their loved ones face during and after deployment.
If you’d like to support the work of the Red Cross with our nation’s military, read how you can help.