American Red Cross Message

The American Red Cross Message

contributed by Liz Zaczek, senior staff writer

The Red Cross is often the first “name” anyone thinks of in the time of crisis. The agency responds to and provides assistance during times of tragedy across the globe. The Red Cross also provides a much lesser publicly known service to active duty and community-based military members during times of personal crisis. They provide global emergency communications to connect them with their families during times of crisis, access to financial assistance and information and referral services. 

When family back home experience an emergency, most often the death or serious illness of a family member, the Red Cross verifies the emergency information and sends a message to the military member’s command. The command then notifies the military member of the emergency, and works directly with the military member regarding the authorization of emergency leave.  

How to Contact the Red Cross

The American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with two options for requesting assistance: online and by phone.

To speak to a Red Cross Emergency Communications Specialist call 1-877-272-7337. 

To initiate a request for Red Cross emergency assistance for members of the military currently serving on active duty use the online self-service tool. Using a computer, smartphone or tablet to start a request for services and track its progress from anywhere in the world.

Information to Have Ready

When contacting the Red Cross, be prepared to provide the following information (The Red Cross suggests calling on the phone if the following information is incomplete.)

Service member information

  • Full legal name
  • Rank/rating
  • Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Social Security number and/or Date of Birth
  • Military unit address
  • Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)

Information about the emergency

  • Name and contact 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 office, funeral home)

Eligibility Requirements

Service members eligible to receive emergency communications regarding an immediate family member include 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,  cadet or midshipman at a service academy; ROTC cadet on orders for training and Merchant Marines aboard a U.S. Naval Ship.

Keep In Mind

The American Red Cross does not authorize emergency leave for members of the United States military. Their  role is to independently verify the emergency, enabling the service member’s commander to make an educated decision regarding emergency leave and then to provide transportation assistance and/or financial assistance if needed.

The American Red Cross works in partnership with the military aid societies to ensure military members and their families have access to emergency funds 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from wherever they are located. The Red Cross can also connect families with other potential financial resources. 

In addition to emergency communication and financial assistance, the American Red Cross provides other services such as disaster assistance and educational courses to help military members and their families with the unique challenges they face each day. 

The American Red Cross’s commitment to active duty and veteran service members and their families never wavers. The agency has helped more than one million military families since 9/11 assisting them with a variety of needs. They are always looking for volunteers to assist them in continuing their commitment to both military and civilian communities nationwide. Contact your local Red Cross for more information on ways to volunteer. 

To read more about The Red Cross and their role in the military community check out a past Military Connection blog post on the topic.

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American Red Cross Message