DoD Report Recommends Changes to Red Cross Program
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2004 The Defense Department and American Red Cross, with their long history of working together to support the military, have completed an assessment that recommends some Red Cross services be refocused toward current needs while eliminating redundancy.
A DoD report to Congress Aug. 4 proposes a plan be developed and implemented during the next year that redefines and streamlines services the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services program provides to the armed forces and their families.
Some services provided through the Armed Forces Emergency Services might overlap with those DoD now provides, the report concluded. In light of strong family support programs now universally available throughout the military, the report recommends that DoD and the American Red Cross develop a plan to eliminate redundancies.
Continuing decreases in public donations to the American Red Cross, a trend that began in the early 1990s, has left the organization short in covering costs of the Armed Forces Emergency Services program, the report acknowledged. Between 1994 and 2003, Congress appropriated $106.9 million toward the cost of the program, with the American Red Cross covering the rest through its general operating funds.
While calling for a refinement of services, the report recognizes the support the American Red Cross has provided to military members and their families throughout its history. This includes emergency communications between service members and their families, in-theater support for deployed troops, and community-based support for military families through nearly 900 American Red Cross chapters and 108 Armed Forces Emergency Services stations. The emergency services program also provides service members with emergency financial assistance, with reimbursement paid through the military aid societies.
The report was completed in consultation with Red Cross leadership and signed by Charles Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. It also recommended input from the heads of the unified combatant command and military service chiefs before final decisions on changes to the Armed Forces Emergency Services program.