The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) provides important support to members of the United States military, help that includes financial assistance, counseling and a commitment to support our veterans – the sick and disabled men and women who have served our country through the Armed Forces.
But perhaps the most important support SAF provides is emergency communications to link members of the military with their families back home. SAF provides that vital link between families and their member of the military 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter where in the world service members are stationed.
Ohio mother Angela Blair learned how important the SAF emergency communications program is when her son, Chad, was stationed overseas in 2009 and there was a death in the family. She contacted her local Red Cross chapter, the Hancock County Chapter in Findlay, Ohio, about the possibility of getting Chad home to be with his family. Angela reports she made that call on a Thursday and Chad was home Sunday night.
The military mom later began to learn all she could about the Red Cross SAF program and found it very helpful to her during Chad’s time overseas. Since then she has become an SAF volunteer and recently completed training to become a volunteer caseworker for the program.
Red Cross emergency communications services keep 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 when a family experiences other emergencies. Red Cross-verified information assists commanding officers in making a decision regarding emergency leave. Without this verification, the service member may not be able to come home during a family emergency.
“My Red Cross friends helped me through this latest situation with Chad,” Angela said. “I would encourage everyone who is going through the same life event I did to give the SAF program a try. It is so helpful, especially during a deployment.”
“It’s very important to educate yourself about what help and information is available,” she continued. “Service to the Armed Forces can help family members and new members of the armed forces with that. Taking the orientation is even beneficial for parents whose child is considering joining the military.”
Chad has just returned stateside from Afghanistan. Since his first deployment in 2009, he has been injured three times and received just as many Purple Hearts, the award presented to members of the armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy.
“My son asked if I would keep on going with my SAF volunteering when his time with the military is over and I told him I will do it for as long as I can,” Angela said. “It’s important for people to have a place to go to get an education about what help is available when someone is in the military.”
While providing service to 1.4 million active duty military personnel and their families, the Red Cross also reaches out to more than 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families living in nearly every community in America.