One of the main services that the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York provides is service to the Armed Forces. The original service of the American Red Cross started during the Civil War as the 'Angel of the Battlefield' Clara Barton provided emergency care to soldiers injured during war, and after the battles would locate the families of deceased servicemen.
Now nearly 150 years later, the Red Cross is still supporting and helping our Armed Forces. These services include but are not limited to: providing emergency communication between the family and the serviceperson - anywhere they may be in the world; some financial assistance; casualty travel assistance; and information and referrals. The Red Cross has earned a reputation for providing objective, timely, confidential, factual, complete and verified reports about emergency situations. These reports enable service members and their commanders to make informed decisions about leave and other matters in order to prevent, prepare for and respond to a family emergency.
The most common service that the Red Cross provides to the Armed Forces is emergency communication between the family and serviceperson. A Southwestern New York family turned to the Red Cross for help when the Roberts* family needed to contact their son about his father's quick decline in health and quite possible death. Mrs. Roberts called the Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces helpline and was able to get a message to her son who was currently serving on a naval ship in the Pacific Ocean. She also asked if he could come home to be with his father in the last few days of his life or at least be home to attend the burial services.
When her son was notified, a Red Cross representative and chaplain were there to help him accept the news.
Fortunately, he was granted leave, and the next day, he was on a plane headed back to New York. He made it back just one day before his father passed.
During the processes, several Red Cross workers were verifying the call with the hospital, calling the naval command, working out flight arrangements and providing counseling to the family during their hard time.
After all of the commotion a few weeks later, a Red Cross worker called the family to see how they are doing, if the serviceperson made it home safely and/or made it back to their station safely, and if there is any other services that the Red Cross could help them with.
Without the grants from the United Way agencies in Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties, and support from other organizations, the Red Cross could not have helped provide 191 services to members of the Armed Forces, which included 110 Emergency Communications. Other services provided were crisis counseling, family follow-up, information and referrals, locator services, and verifications from July 2011 to June 2012. In the years to come the Red Cross will continue to support our Armed Forces with help from our community members throughout Southwestern New York.
*names have been changed to adhere to confidentiality agreement.