Normally stationed on the Navy destroyer the USS Milius in Japan, Andrea Barnes was on leave in San Diego when she got word that her grandfather Neldon Marshall had passed away. Barnes was scheduled to go back to Japan the day before the funeral, but her mother’s phone call to the Red Cross of Greater Idaho helped Andrea extend her leave and fly home to Nampa to celebrate her grandfather’s life with family and friends.
“I could just tell by the way she reacted she was really excited to be able to come,” Andrea's mother Sharon Barnes said. “I think it would have been a huge disappointment and a hole in her heart if she hadn’t been able to.”
Through its emergency communications program, the American Red Cross independently verifies family emergencies, helping the service member’s commander make an educated decision when deciding whether to grant an emergency leave. Red Cross also provides transportation and financial assistance to service members when needed.
Last year, the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana provided 473 emergency communications to military families.
For Andrea, her mother’s call to the Red Cross jump-started the process so she could work with her commanding officer and apply to get her leave extended. And for Sharon, it meant having her daughter home on an extremely meaningful day. Of the 57 grandchildren, 54 attended Marshall’s funeral.
“I was so thrilled mostly because I didn’t even really consider it to be a possibility,” Sharon said. “It was a real thrill for her to have the opportunity to see at least 44 of her cousins and most of her siblings. She got to see a lot of people that she wouldn’t normally get to see and some of them she may never see another time.
“Her grandfather was someone really special.”
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
Last year the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana provided services and support to more than 920 military families. To learn more about the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, visit www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families.html.