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Red Cross Revs Up to Enhance Assistance for Reserve Components

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2001 – As military troops gear up and move out to fight worldwide terrorism, the American Red Cross is revving up to enhance its assistance to National Guard and Reserve troops and their families, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Kelly Alexander.

In the past, she said, the Red Cross has not reached out to reserve component personnel as much as it should have. Now, officials are trying to remedy that by ensuring that guardsmen and reservists know that more than 1,000 Red Cross chapters nationwide and 20,000 employees and volunteers working on military installations around the world are ready to provide them emergency service around the clock.

"We're trying to reach as many guardsmen and reservists as possible to explain to them what the Red Cross does and how the organization works before they're called to active duty," Alexander said.

Service members and their families look to the Red Cross for worldwide emergency communications, confidential counseling, emergency financial assistance, family support programs and veterans assistance, she said. During the year 2000, for instance, the Red Cross transmitted 53,472 e-mail messages and received 52,696 replies for military and civilian personnel around the world, she said.

"We're trying to reach as many guardsmen and reservists as possible to explain to them what the Red Cross does and how the organization works before they're called to active duty," Alexander said.

"We want to get the word out to school teachers, pharmacists and other community-based military personnel who may have never been called up before to let them know how to access our services," she continued. "We're also trying to get them involved with the Red Cross and what we do, because some of them may want to join us as volunteers in their communities."

"Every day, we carry the sad news of a death -- or joyful news of a birth -- to service men and women worldwide," said Sue Richter, vice president of American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services. "We often arrange emergency travel, enabling military families to be together.

"The long separations and stressful situations that occur when a service member is stationed abroad often place a serious emotional strain on families," Richter said. "The Red Cross keeps military personnel and their families close through services, including confidential counseling as well as neutral, impartial assistance when and where needed, particularly during times of crisis at home."

Active duty service members, Guard and Reserve members and their families who need assistance should contact their local Red Cross chapter, Alexander said.

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