Ways to Support our Troops


Thousands of Americans are asking what they can do to show their support for military service members, especially those serving overseas in this time of war.  Due to security concerns and transportation constraints, the American Red Cross cannot accept items to be mailed to "Any Service Member".  Some people have tried to avoid this prohibition by sending large numbers of packages to an individual service member's address, which however well-intentioned, clogs the mail and causes unnecessary delays.


Our suggestions:

"Help Our Troops Call Home" -  The Red Cross has partnered with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) to offer Americans a way to support our troops serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Help Our Troops Call Home Program allows people to purchase a Military Exchange Prepaid Phone Card for U.S. troops stationed overseas. The program makes it easy for deployed military members to call home and stay in touch with family and friends. Hearing a familiar voice is one of the best ways to boost morale and feeling of well being for our troops.

With some 150,000 troops deployed overseas, there is still a great need for phone cards. As of October 2004, the AAFES "Help Our Troops Call Home" Program raised $433,175 to help marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers. These funds have been used to purchase 10,465 550-Unit Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards and 1,252 AT&T Ship to Shore cards. This initiative offers phone cards that do not expire and do not add any additional charges or connection fees.

Each card costs $39 and provides more than two hours of call time from call center locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Cards can be sent to "any service member" who is deployed or hospitalized. Charitable partners, including the Red Cross, USO, Air Force Aid Society and Fisher House, distribute the cards earmarked for "any service member."

Though the cards are widely sold by other retailers, AAFES offers the best value with lower rates and connection charges. To order the 550-Unit Military Exchange Prepaid Phone Card, visit the AAFES Web site or call (800) 527-2345.

"Gifts from the Homefront" - Last year the Red Cross partnered with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for another program, "Gifts from the Homefront." The program allows service members to purchase convenience items as well as necessities at PX and BX facilities around the world.

"Gifts from the Homefront" is a safe alternative to traditional care packages that place unnecessary strain on the military mail system or jeopardize security. The certificates can be used for merchandise already stocked at any AAFES facility around the world, including more than 50 stores throughout central and southwest Asia.

"Gifts from the Homefront" certificates can be purchased from AAFES by friends and families or groups and addressed to "any service member." Charitable partners including the Red Cross, USO, Air Force Aid Society and Fisher House then distribute the certificates. To order the certificates, visit the AAFES Web site or call (877) 770-4438.

Nextel DONATE A PHONE  - Nextel sponsors a unique program in support of the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services entitled DONATE A PHONE. This program is a simple way for Americans to support military members and their families by donating their old wireless phones. The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless Foundation, the philanthropic organization for the nation's wireless industry and the creator of the DONATE A PHONE program, estimates that approximately 30 million old wireless phones lay idle in American homes and businesses.

Americans can participate in the program by taking their old wireless phones from any manufacturer to any one of Nextel's 700 retail stores. After recycling and refurbishing the phones, Nextel will donate the net proceeds of the resale value, which averages $1.90 for each phone collected, to American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services, the arm of the organization that supports members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Operation Dear Abby - Dear Abby, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of the Navy's LifeLines2000 Services Network in association with SPAWAR SCC (National Capital Region) provides a private and secure online resource that will allow people to send a sailor, marine, soldier, airman, or coast guardsman a holiday greeting or message of support: http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/About.html.

Donate Blood - We encourage all eligible donors to give blood as often as possible since blood is a perishable resource and must be replenished through regular donation. It has to be available, on the shelves, when and where it's needed in anticipation of patient need. To be eligible to donate blood you must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and able to pass a general health questionnaire.


Please note that these programs in no way replace the traditional free services of the Red Cross to enable communications between military personnel and their families in an emergency situation.


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