By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
More than 148 years have passed since the International Red Cross was first established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1863. According to the International Committee for the Red Cross website, it was originally established as a result of the work of Henry Dunant, who sought to lay out rules to protect wounded soldiers and medics after seeing thousands of wounded French, Austrian and Italian soldiers left without adequate medical care at the battle of Solferino.
From there, relief societies were created in each country and the beginning of the Red Cross that provides humanitarian help for people affected by conflict and armed violence and promotes the laws that protect victims of war, as it is currently known, was born.
It was in 1881 that Clara Barton and a circle of acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in Washington D.C. According to the American Red Cross website, they have been the nation’s premier emergency response organization. Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers support in the following areas: community services that help the needy; the collection, processing and distribution of lifesaving blood and blood products; educational programs that promote health and safety; international relief and development programs; and support and comfort military members and their families.
It’s the last part of the Red Cross which most military members can relate to. In times of family emergency, the American Red Cross provides military families easier access to emergency communications. In June, the Red Cross unveiled a single number (1-877-272-7337) for all military members and their families to use to initiate emergency communication messages. In the past military members and their families not living on military installations had to know the number of the local community Red Cross. With the change, everyone is able to use the same number.
The Red Cross, through their emergency communications services, puts military personnel in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, the birth of a service member’s child or grandchild or in the event of a family emergency.
When faced with those emergencies, military members and their families can contact the Red Cross to relay urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, to include ships at sea, embassies and remote locations.
Without this verification, the service member may not be able to come home during a family emergency.
To contact the Red Cross call 877-272-7337 (toll-free within the continental United States) if you are:
• An active duty service member stationed in the United States or overseas, or a family member residing with them
• A family member of an active duty service member who does not reside in the service member’s household
• A Department of Defense civilian assigned overseas and family members residing with them
• A member of the National Guard or Reserves
• A recruiter or military entry processing center military personnel,
• A Veteran
When calling the Red Cross, please provide as much of the following information about the service member as is known to include full name, rank/rating, branch of service, social security number, date of birth, military address and for deployed service members only: information about the deployed unit and home base unit.