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Red Cross Verification Not Needed for Emergency Leave

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 1996 – Commanders do not need American Red Cross verification to approve emergency leaves, a top DoD personnel official announced.

Carolyn Becraft, deputy assistant defense secretary for personnel support, families and education, said DoD is trying to change a widespread belief that commanders must receive Red Cross verification before approving leaves. Instead of verifying every situation and delaying leave, Becraft said commanders should use the Red Cross only when they question the validity of the leave request.

In clarifying the defense leave policy, Becraft said DoD wants to reduce the burden on service members, families and commanders caused by verification delays. "Most service members are mature and responsible individuals whose emergency leave needs can be considered on their own merits," said Becraft.

Defense policy says commanders should grant leave to any service member for family emergencies involving members of their household, immediate family and sole surviving blood relatives. By granting leave, commanders allow their troops to be home with family during hardship and meet family responsibilities.

Becraft said commanders questioning an emergency situation must exercise care to ensure the emergency exists. In those cases, she said commanders should contact a military service agency near the emergency site or request help from the American Red Cross in approving leave.

Although verification is not required, Becraft said the need for American Red Cross services continues. She said the Red Cross remains vital to communities and small towns as a bridge between home and service member.

Military personnel can help their families prepare for emergencies by compiling information the Red Cross or military authorities will need. Jesse Cowart of the American Red Cross' national headquarters said this information includes the service member's name, rank, Social Security number, military unit and location, home and duty phone numbers and the nature of the emergency.

In a medical emergency, Cowart said, families should provide a hospital name and location, the doctor's name and phone number and the illness prognosis. In case of death, the Red Cross would need the time of death and funeral date. He said this information will help commanders granting emergency leaves and the Red Cross in sending emergency messages.

Commanders looking for additional guidance on granting emergency leave can review DoD Directive 1327.5, paragraph F.5. Army discusses its leave policy in Chapter 6, AR 600-8-10, while Air Force guidance is in AFI 36-3003. BUPERS Manual 30280 sets the guidance for Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

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