Red Cross Is There Whenever, Wherever Troops, Families Have an Emergency
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2002 Marsha J. "Marty" Evans is hankering to get the word out to service members and their families across the United States and around the globe: "If your family needs to reach you in an emergency, the American Red Cross will be there!"
A military brat and retired Navy rear admiral, Evans has firsthand experience with Red Cross assistance in an emergency.
"When my father passed away in Springfield, Ill., during the summer of 1997, the Red Cross notified my command chaplain, who then notified me," said Evans, who was the Naval Postgraduate School superintendent in Monterey, Calif., at the time.
Evans said when she was a Navy daughter living overseas and in different places in the United States, the Red Cross "was a very important way my family was connected to our family members back home.
"Then, as a serving military member for nearly 30 years, I know how important it is from a morale and troop support point of view that we have very reliable and quick communications with family so we can help our sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines, Coast Guardsmen and women stay connected," said Evans, who served four years as leader of the Girl Scouts of America before becoming the president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross on Aug. 5, 2002.
The American Red Cross was there for her family when they needed to communicate, and it was there for nearly a half million military families last year, she noted.
"Whether you're at sea, in Afghanistan or at more than 100 bases around the world, the Red Cross is there to serve," Evans said. "We're also with your family back home, when there's a disaster or when someone needs blood.
"It's not just the bad news, the death of a parent or illness of a close family member, but it's the good news, too -- the birth of a child," the retired admiral said.
Evans said the military has a strong sense of teamwork and relies on its soldiers in the field, at sea at home and abroad.
"The Red Cross is no different. We rely on our 26,000 volunteers around the globe who deliver around-the-clock emergency communication services to military personnel and their families, keeping them in touch across the miles," Evans said.
She said troops overseas can rest assured that when they see a hurricane, flood or other disaster affecting their hometowns that the Red Cross is also at work tending to their and many others' families who may have been impacted by those events.
Devorah Goldburg, director of Red Cross stakeholder communications and marketing, said, "Whether you're serving in this country or overseas, the Red Cross is going to help military members with communications messages, counseling, comfort packs and training. If there's a disaster in your home community where your family or relatives are impacted, the Red Cross will be there.
"We respond to more than 67,000 disasters every year in communities across the country, from house fires to floods to hurricanes to tornadoes to heat waves," Goldburg noted. "So you can rest assured that your family is going to be taken care of by the Red Cross in other ways, too."
Red Cross assistance is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, for 1.37 million active duty, 1.35 million National Guard and Reserve members and an estimated 12 million military family members at home.
More than 475,690 military families were assisted during fiscal 2002. Armed Forces Emergency Services centers and stations helped more than 153,000 families while Red Cross chapters served 322,678.
Goldburg said hundreds of emergency messages were transmitted daily for delivery to service members around the world, including those assigned to ships at sea. And, she noted, 1.3 million phone calls and e-mails were sent or received during fiscal 2002.
Emergency financial assistance for 9,124 service members totaling more than $6.4 million were handled by the Red Cross in partnership with military aid societies. The aid societies reimbursed the direct costs of loans and grants provided by the Red Cross.
AFES mobile staff members are currently assigned to military deployment sites in Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Afghanistan to support troops with emergency communication services and quality of life programs, Goldburg said.