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Red Cross Helps Members of U.S. Military During Crises

A Call to the Red Cross Brings Military Families Together Amid Crisis

When a crisis strikes, it can be devastating for a family. When a crisis affects a military family, their service member may be thousands of miles away. The American Red Cross is there to help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces can deliver emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces no matter where they are in the world. Whether the message is bad news like the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, or good news of the birth of the service member’s child, the Red Cross will relay the message with verified factual and complete descriptions of the emergency. And the Red Cross can reach the service member anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea, at embassies and in remote locations.

Even if the family is able to reach their member of the military by phone or email, the information verified by the Red Cross will be used by the service member and their commanding officers when making decisions regarding emergency leave.

FAR AWAY IN JAPAN When David Osborn, Alamosa, Colorado, was 18 years old he had just finished U.S. Army basic training and was stationed in Japan. His grandfather, who had raised him, became ill while David was overseas. David was awakened in the middle of the night by the army chaplain who had received a Red Cross emergency communication from David’s mother that his grandfather was critically ill. Red Cross provided the command verified information regarding the emergency and command was able make a quick leave decision allowing the member to quickly make travel arrangements.

MOTHER’S ILLNESS Randall Cain’s first Red Cross experience came in 1968. He was 19 and serving in the Marine Corps when he found out his mother needed emergency surgery. The Red Cross flew him to Washington, D.C. to see her. He was able to spend 2 weeks with her before she passed. The Red Cross came to his rescue again in 1974 when a tornado hit his Louisville, Kentucky apartment, providing him with shelter, essentials and counseling. He was amazed by the speed and scope of the Red Cross’ response.

The Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces provides emergency communications, access to financial assistance on behalf of the military aid societies and information and referrals in an emergency which brings peace of mind to service members and their families when they are separated.

HOW TO CONTACT THE RED CROSS FOR ASSISTANCE The Red Cross Emergency Communications Center is available to help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. People can call toll free at (877) 272-7337 for help in getting an emergency message to their loved one serving in the military.

When contacting the Red Cross, the caller should be prepared to provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known:

  • Full legal name
  • Rank/rating
  • Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Military unit address
  • Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)
  • Calls can be made if you are currently in or calling about:

  • Anyone on active duty in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard
  • An activated member of the Guard and Reserve of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • An immediate family member or dependent of anyone in the above categories
  • A civilian employed by or under contract to the Department of Defense and stationed outside the Continental United States and any family residing with them at that location
  • A military retiree or the retiree’s spouse or widow(er)
  • A cadet or midshipman at a service academy; ROTC cadet on orders for training
  • A merchant marine aboard a U.S. Naval Ship
  • 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.