American Red Cross Services for Military Service Members and Families
You might know the American Red Cross as “those people who do the blood drives,” but like the military, they have a rich history of service. A national service organization for more than a century, the 700 locally-supported chapters of the American Red Cross has helped more than 15 million people each year people mobilize to help their neighbors. These volunteers learn valuable skills to prepare for and respond to emergencies in homes, communities, and around the world. In addition, almost four million people also donate blood each year through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States.
The American Red Cross also maintains a strong commitment to serving all members of the military, whether active-duty, Guard, and Reserve service members or their immediate family members. They are an important resource for our service members and those they love.
American Red Cross services for military members and their families include:
Communicating important news with family members is one area the Red Cross supports. Whether it’s to share the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one, the immense worldwide network maintained by the Red Cross helps keeps military personnel anywhere (including on ships at sea, at embassies, and in isolated military units)linked with their loved ones.
If you need to send an emergency message, contact the Red Cross and have the following information on hand:
- service member’s full name, rank, Service branch, Social Security number, and military address
- information about the deployed unit and the location of the rear detachment unit (for deployed service members only)
- name, phone number, and relationship of person in the city or town where the emergency occurred (to provide more information if required)
- name and contact number for hospital or funeral home to verify the emergency
Social services and disaster assistance
The Red Cross provides counseling, family support and help with VA appeals for service members and their families. There are some chapters that offer special courses or support groups for military families to help themselves and others deal with the psychological challenges of the deployment cycle.
Direct support to service members
Red Cross staff members deploy overseas to provide direct emergency communications. In overseas locations, the Red Cross may offer respite from harsh conditions and bring a little bit of home to the troops by operating a twenty-four-hour canteen service with coffee, cold drinks, snacks, games, videos, and books. Red Cross teams also visit patients in clinics and hospitals.
Military family members who wish to volunteer with the Red Cross can also find opportunities such as:
- positions as greeters, hospital guides, wheelchair escorts, patient chaperones, and pharmacy aids working at medical facilities in areas such as physical therapy, the emergency room, pediatrics, dermatology, and radiology
- volunteer caseworker positions at Red Cross locations
- a Dental Assistant Program (DENTAC) for training as a dental technician
- pet-therapy volunteer positions to cheer up patients in military hospitals
- blood donation center positions to assist with blood drives
- disaster-response positions to provide relief support
The American Red Cross is accessible in a number of ways:
- Active-duty service members stationed in the US and their immediate family members may call the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Service (AFES) Centers for help at any time 877-272-7337.
- Members of the Guard and Reserve, retirees, and extended family members can access services through their local Red Cross Chapter, listed in local telephone directories and in the chapter directory.
- Overseas personnel stationed on military installations may call installation operators or the on-installation Red Cross office.