Red Cross Messages
Unfortunately, there may come a time during your deployment where a Family Member needs to send a Red Cross Message to the Service Member.
Red Cross messages may be needed for a variety of reasons, but the main reason to send a Red Cross Message is to have an avenue to send an message of importance to the Service Member when they cannot be contacted through conventional methods, when there is an emergency or event at home that the Service Member needs to be aware of. There may or may not be a request for action with the message. Note though, that if action is required, the Unit may require a Red Cross message to be sent before action can be taken.
To facilitate the ease of sending a Red Cross message, the Service Member should leave pertinent information with multiple members of his/her family before deploying, going to his/her Annual Training, or going to a military school. This information should be kept in a safe place. One method is to use the magnet format provided by the American Red Cross. An example of this magnet is shown here. If you would like to receive one of these magnets, please contact your Family Assistance Team. These magnets are also usually available at Pre-Deployment Yellow Ribbon events.
If you do not have a magnet or wish to use one, you will need to know the following information about the Service Member in order to send a Red Cross message:
- Full Legal Name
- Branch of Service
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Military Unit Address
- Information about the deployed unit and home base unit
Note: Red Cross messages are not only applicable to deployments. You will also need to send a message if the same situation would happen to occur during Annual Training or other training or school the Service Member may be at.
Learn more about Red Cross messages directly from the Red Cross! Click here to visit their website.
Example Use of a Red Cross Message
As an example, let’s hypothesize that a close Family Member (spouse/parent/child) of a Service Member was in an accident and is not expected to recover. The spouse or other responsible party initiates a Red Cross message by calling his/her Family Assistance Team or by calling the Red Cross directly. The Red Cross asks many questions and then contacts a member of the Unit’s leadership overseas. The message is relayed from the Command to the Service Member; the leadership decides what action, if any can be taken. Many factors will play into the decision making process and not all messages will be able to be fulfilled.
In many school and deployment situations the Family is able to maintain good contact with the Service Member. Even if you tell the Service Member directly what the situation is, you will still have to initiate a Red Cross Message in order to send official communication to the Command staff so official action can be taken. The earlier this process is initiated, the faster that information will be available to the Command team.