Frequently asked questions
1. What is the role of Red Cross workers with the military in time of conflict?
The American Red Cross has a Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Program whose mission is to keep family members in touch while their loved one(s) is serving at a military installation anywhere in the world. To accomplish this work, Red Cross workers frequently deploy on assignment with military forces to keep the communication link operational around the clock and around the globe.
2. My relative is in the military and I need to speak with him/her as soon as possible due to a family emergency. Can the Red Cross help to locate this person?
Yes, in the event of a time-sensitive emergency, such as a critical accident, illness, death in the family or the birth of a child in the service member’s immediate family, the Red Cross should be contacted immediately. Our SAF unit is equipped to verify the situation and relay an emergency communication or leave request, if necessary, to the proper military authorities. You can access our 24-hour Service to the Armed Forces unit through your local chapter..
3. Does the Red Cross provide financial assistance to family members of service members?
Yes, the Red Cross can provide access to an interest-free loan or a grant made available by a Military Aid Society. Emergency financial assistance may be authorized for emergencies and are disbursed on the basis of need to active-duty service members and their immediate family. You can request Emergency Financial Assistance by contacting the Red Cross through your local chapter.
4. Can the Red Cross grant leave or emergency leave?
No, only the service member’s command is authorized to grant a leave or extension of leave. The Red Cross does not grant leave or extension of leave. All branches of service require the service member to make his or her own request for emergency leave to his or her own unit commander. The approval for leave or extension of leave is at the discretion of the unit commander. In the case of extension of leave for emergency reasons, the service member may contact the Red Cross for assistance through your local chapter.
5. Can the Red Cross assist me in requesting that my husband be granted leave for the birth of our child?
No, the Red Cross cannot request leave for a service member. However, the Red Cross is able to send a message to a service member informing him of the birth of a child. If presence is requested due to a medical emergency with the labor and delivery or other extenuating circumstances, the Red Cross can verify these circumstances. At that time the service member would then make their own request for emergency leave to their unit commander. This service can be accessed by contacting the Red Cross through your local chapter.
6. I am currently in the middle of divorce proceedings with my spouse who is in the armed forces. Does the Red Cross offer any type of legal aid or advice?
The Red Cross cannot give any legal information or advice. If a service member is in need of legal services, he or she should contact the legal officer assigned to his or her installation. The Red Cross can provide family members with information about legal resources within their community. For information on legal services, contact the Red Cross through your local chapter.
7. My relative is currently in the armed forces and I have not heard from him/her in over a month. Can the Red Cross help contact this person so I know everything is all right?
No, the Red Cross can only assist in contacting a service member if there is an emergency. However, if you have exhausted all of your regular means of communication to contact your loved one you can write a letter to the appropriate military branch’s Locator Office. In your letter include a brief summary of the circumstances and the following information about the service member whom you are trying to locate: Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Rank and Station Location.
This letter will be forwarded to the service member, if located, and at that time it is the service member’s responsibility to contact the sender. Please note that the sender will not receive a notification of the letter being delivered by the Locator Office or by the Red Cross.
The following are the addresses for the Locator Offices:
Army World Wide Locator
Enlisted Records & Evaluation Center
8899 East 56th Street
Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN 46249-5301
Air Force World Wide Locator
550 C Street, West, Suite 50
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4752
US Coast Guard 2100
2nd St SW
Washington, D.C. 20593
World Wide Locator
Bureau of Naval Personnel
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3120
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
If you are in need of more information, contact the Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337.
8. My only child is serving in the armed forces and I was wondering if any statutes exist prohibiting an only child from being deployed to a combat zone?
Sons and daughters who are only children or the last to carry on the family name can be deployed. However, they may be entitled to a peacetime deferment if there has been a military death in the immediate family.
The present law provides a peacetime exemption for anyone whose parent or sibling was killed in action, died in the line of duty or died later as a result of disease or injury incurred during military service. The service person does not have to be the only son or daughter in order to qualify; if there are four children in the family and one dies in the line of duty, the remaining three would qualify for the surviving-child status under the present law.
This provision is applicable only in peacetime, not at times of war or national emergency as declared by Congress. The fact that a service person is an only child does not qualify him/her for consideration.
9. How can I support the Service to Armed Forces (SAF) Program?
Around the clock and around the globe, during times of personal crisis, SAF provides assistance and comfort to US military members and their families. By making a donation to SAF you will be supporting the nationally coordinated Red Cross services provided to military families across the country and to the American service members located throughout the world. To make an online donation, contact your local chapter.
10. I would like to write letters and/or send care packages to the soldiers in Iraq. What do I need to do?
The American Red Cross Greater Carolina’s Chapter is not collecting letters or care packages to be sent to soldiers. Listed below are various ways that you can support US service members.
Operation Dear Abby
Electronic messages of support and gratitude can be sent through “Operation Dear Abby.”
Operation Shoebox was founded in 2003 to support U.S. servicemen and women deployed overseas. This mission is accomplished through shipping care packages, letters and bulk items that raise morale, let service people know they are cared about and are beneficial during a deployment.
This official Defense Department Web site offers the latest news, photographs and other information about the US military operations and acts as a starting point for finding military information online.
USO (United Service Organizations)
This organization provides morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military personnel.
This unique program keeps military personnel and hospitalized veterans in touch with their families and loved ones by providing them with a free phone card.
Family and friends of deployed Army Personnel in Afghanistan ONLY can send a HooahMail letter to be downloaded, printed, and ready for delivery, usually within 24 hours. THE SERVICE IS FREE, PRIVATE and SECURE.