The American Red Cross has an unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army. Today, the Red Cross is meeting the needs of a changing military and expanding services to veterans. Red Cross support of military members and their families enhances morale and contributes to increased operational capability in several ways.
Col. Larry Jackson put it this way: “The army is all about service, service to our nation. The Red Cross is service to our soldiers.”
So what are some ways the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) shows it is greater than ordinary obstacles?
RED CROSS > GEOGRAPHY When a military family experiences a crisis, the Red Cross is there to help. Wherever their military service takes them, service members can rest assured that the Red Cross will deliver notification of an emergency such as the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, as well as the good news of the birth of a service member's child or grandchild.
Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea and at embassies and remote locations.
Even if the service member receives an email or phone call from home, Red Cross-verified information assists the member and his/her commanding officers with making a decision regarding emergency leave.
Red Cross workers use advanced communications technologies to link service members with their families. The Emergency Communications Center quickly and efficiently obtains the required information and sends emergency communication messages to service members of every branch of service wherever in the world they happen to be.
Knowing in advance that communication links, access to financial assistance and information and referral will be available in an emergency brings peace of mind to service members and to the families from whom they are separated.
The American Red Cross Emergency Communications Center is available to help 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call (877) 272-7337 (toll-free) and see redcross.org for more details.
COMPETITION > INJURIES The Red Cross stays flexible to help wherever and with whatever assistance is needed. In one case, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Units from across Europe were in the final stages of recovery from wounds and injuries when the Red Cross and the Wounded Warrior Project teamed up to organized a competition.
As soldiers were preparing to transition from the military to civilian life, to what they call the new normal, the Red Cross was there to help soldiers use a competitive drive and take them to the next level of healing with sports and competition. Thirty teams challenged themselves to find clues, solve puzzles and complete tasks.
At the end of the day, the question isn’t what they can’t do, but exploring all that they can.
SCUBA > PAIN It’s proving to be one of the most successful new physical therapy programs available to recovering soldiers, but it isn’t what you’d expect. Funded by the Red Cross, scuba courses fulfill a critical need – finding the wounded new ways to cope and recover from serious injuries.
Soldiers report the scuba course helps relieve stress and anxiety, especially for those who have PTSD.
Red Cross volunteer and nurse 2nd Lt. Gilbert Valenzeula reported he’s “seeing a more relaxed state [in the wounded]. They’ve gone through so many trials and tribulations, one thing after the other. It just seems that every time they’re in the water, they’re relaxed. The weightlessness feeling adds to the relaxed atmosphere.”
Soldiers are competitors; they need new skills to master. They need ways to take the pressure off stressed bodies and stressed minds. In scuba, their injures don’t hold them back.
“It’s an honor being out here with the wounded warriors, but it’s also a joy. It’s a pure joy seeing them get past all those injuries and they’re in the recovery phase,” said Valenzeula.
Spc. Jason Moore said, “To be honest, I think this probably is the best program we’ve done. We’ve done the rock wall at Ramstein [Air Base], but a lot of us can’t do it because of physical limitations. The pool? The physical limitations are pretty much gone when we’re in the water.”