We all know the Red Cross from blood drives and Santas ringing bells as they beg for money, but in fact the American Red Cross (ARC) has a long history of providing support to members of the Armed Forces. The Red Cross has been doing so since its inception in 1881.
Military members can be confident that when they are deployed, in training, or stationed far from home –– often without phone or email access –– they are not out of touch. The ARC offers emergency communication, emergency financial assistance, counseling, and services for veterans at absolutely no cost to families in need.
I live in the Philadelphia area, so I contacted the Red Cross’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter for information on how the Red Cross supports our military. My good friend Maureen Murphy, the senior major gifts officer, quickly sent me the below information:
This year 1,577 military families received 2,643 services. We anticipate no decrease in the need for our services in 2009. In our chapter’s five-county area, 34 National Guard units are currently active, with 17,000 Pennsylvania Guard having served since 2001. Furthermore, with the current economic downturn, we anticipate that the military families we serve will call upon us even more.Though the "Services to the Armed Forces" program is a congressionally mandated core function for the Red Cross, the federal government does not subsidize these services. Call Maureen Murphy, senior major gifts officer, at (215) 299-4038 or Emily Davis, senior director of financial development, at (215) 299-4064. You’ve still got time to make a 2008 charitable donation.
Emergency Communication: Red Cross communication services allow active duty military personnel to be in touch with their families in the event of emergencies such as death, serious illness of a family member, the birth of a child, or similar serious family situations. We contact embassies, ships at sea, and isolated military units. We also record and send special video messages to deployed service-members that allow them to see their loved ones.
Emergency Financial Assistance: We provide financial assistance to military personnel and their families in the form of interest-free loans or grants to assist with traveling expenses incurred during a personal or family crisis requiring the presence of a service member or his/her family. We also provide financial support when there is a demonstrated need for burial expenses, or urgent health and welfare needs such as food or shelter.
Counseling: We offer confidential services to military personnel and their family including counseling, guidance, and information referrals of all kinds.
Services for Veterans: We provide assistance and information to veterans about the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our staff and volunteers work as advocates assisting veterans in obtaining financial benefits through the Board of Veterans Appeals.
The following are two examples of how our chapter has been able to assist our local military families this year:
• Jacob D. was born in the morning. Soon after, Kate D. called us to ask if we could inform her husband, a Marine serving in Iraq, about the birth of their son. Our volunteer documented the request, verified the information with Kate’s doctor in Montgomery County, and dispatched an Emergency Communications request. The news was conveyed to Corporal D. that same day.
• Maria B.’s daughter was rushed to a Chester County hospital. Maria’s husband was on assignment in the “Beyond the Horizon Exercise” but she could not reach him. Maria contacted our chapter, and a volunteer immediately contacted the hospital, confirmed the child’s status, and dispatched an Emergency Communications leave request. With this quick and efficient work, the U.S Southern Command notified Captain B. that he was granted leave to go home to be with his daughter and wife. And it all took just 43 minutes!
As our troops continue to deploy, our chapter remains committed to delivering “Services to the Armed Forces” to them and their families. Your gift truly matters to the thousands of men, women, and children who call upon us in times of crisis.