When U.S. service members are sent into a remote corner of the world, the American Red Cross is there with them.
Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) staffers are often with the first wave of troops to arrive in theater, or are deployed once the number of service members in the area is enough to warrant on-site Red Cross emergency communications support. The Red Cross works closely with the U.S. military to decide where SAF support is needed.
SAF IN DJIBOUTI Sherri Brown, senior vice president, Red Cross SAF, recently traveled to Djibouti to get a better sense of Red Cross operations on the ground. “I wanted to see the Red Cross role at Camp Lemonnier first hand,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to go there and hear from the leaders and rank and file how important Red Cross support is to the individual, to the unit, to the entire service.”
“Djibouti is a very remote location,” Brown explained. “It is very hot. Our worker there puts in long days seven days a week. It’s not a normal living environment, all the comforts of home aren’t there. But you wouldn’t believe what one Red Cross worker can do. Our service members do amazing things every day. They are dedicated. The Red Cross is there for them, even in these remote locations.”
SEVERAL WEEKS OF TRAINING Before being deployed, SAF workers train for several weeks on providing emergency communications at the Red Cross communications center at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, followed by additional training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Depending on whether their assignment includes a combat zone, they may process through the military for equipment such as kevlar and flak jacket.
SAF workers are presently serving at three remote locations – Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Camp Lemonnier is the United States Naval Expeditionary Base situated at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, home to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa of the U.S. Africa Command. The Red Cross has one SAF staff member on hand to support U.S. members of the military in the area.
RED CROSS SERVICES The Red Cross provides emergency communications for the troops, as well as morale boosters like books and movies, events such as fun runs and cookouts, distribution of things like coffee, candy and snacks and web cams to enable the troops to speak to loved ones back home.
At Camp Lemonnier, the Red Cross has added something else at the request of the military – health and safety training in CPR and first aid, as well as other Red Cross classes. In less than a year, approximately 500 troops have taken the training, an important addition to their skills, and 20 have become Red Cross instructors.
Presently Red Cross SAF workers are helping U.S. service members all over the world. They provide service to 1.4 million active duty military personnel and their families, as well as reaching out to more than 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families living in nearly every community in America.
HOW TO GET HELP IN AN EMERGENCY No matter where a military member is stationed, or where their loved ones are located, the Red Cross will provide emergency communications twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. The Red Cross relays urgent messages to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including ships at sea, embassies and remote locations.
Loved ones needing help can call 1-877-272-7337 (toll-free within the continental United States) for help in relaying an emergency message to a member of the military. When calling, they should know the service member’s full name, rank/rating, branch of service, Social Security Number, date of birth and military address. If someone is deployed, it is important to know information about their deployed and home base units.
SAF Services The Red Cross provided 386,000 emergency communication services to over 137,000 military members and their families in 2011. Members of the Armed Forces can count on the Red Cross to help in times of crisis, provide access to financial assistance in partnership with military aid societies, as well as programs for the country’s veterans. For more information, visit the Service to the Armed Forces program information on our web site.