Private First Class Amalie Briggs was stationed in Georgia for training more than 1,500 miles from home when she got word that her grandmother had died unexpectedly. But thanks to her mother reaching out to the Red Cross of Idaho and Montana, the Idaho Falls woman was able to request leave from the Army and attend the funeral, providing Amalie a chance to celebrate her grandmother’s life with her family and also bringing closure.
“When you’re grieving it helps to have people you love and who are also grieving around you to lift each other up and help each other through,” Amalie’s mother Amy Briggs said. “It was emotionally important, not just for me and her siblings, but for her. It’s hard to process grieving when you don’t have that final goodbye.”
The Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces team worked with Amalie’s commanding officers to verify the family emergency so they could grant her leave. Amalie flew home to Idaho Falls and then accompanied her family to Denver for the funeral.
“Everybody I worked with was very kind and patient as I was trying to get the correct information to them,” Amy said. “The process wasn’t difficult and that helped everything.”
This wasn’t the first time the family reached out to the Red Cross to help get a service member home during a family emergency.
“When my father-in-law died, they helped get my brother-in-law – he was in the Reserves – home for the funeral,” Amy said.
Last year, the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana provided 1,098 emergency communications to military families. Red Cross also provides transportation and financial assistance to service members when needed.
The American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Emergency communication requests can be submitted online at www.redcross.org/get-help/military-families/emergency-communication.html or by calling 877-272-7337.
You will need to know the service member’s:
· Full legal name
· Branch of service
· Social security number or date of birth
· Military unit address and information about the deployed unit and home base unit
And information about the emergency:
· Name and contact information for the immediate family member experiencing the emergency (could be spouse, parent, child, grandchild or grandparent)
· Nature of the emergency
· Where the emergency can be verified (hospital, doctors officer, funeral home).
Service members eligible to receive emergency communications include:
· Those 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
· A civilian employed by or under contract to the Department of Defense and stationed outside the Continental United States
· A cadet or midshipman at a service academy or a ROTC cadet on orders for training
· A Merchant Marine aboard a U.S. Naval Ship
The Red Cross of Idaho and Montana provided services and support to 2,017 military families last year. To learn more about the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, visit https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families.html.