In 1905, the U.S. Congress granted a charter
to the American Red Cross that required the organization to act "in
accord with the military authorities as a medium of communication between
the people of the United States and their armed forces...." Since
that charter was granted, the Red Cross has provided not only communications
but a variety of basic humanitarian services to help members of the U.S.
Armed Forces and their families around the world. Red Cross nurses
provided aid to the wounded during the Spanish-American War and ambulance
drivers were added in World War I. Red Cross canteens welcomed American
troops during World War II, and the American Red Cross recreation clubs
were established close to the front lines in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
During the conflict in the Persian Gulf, the Red Cross provided service
members and their families with financial assistance, crisis intervention,
support groups, and a variety of other services. The Red Cross has
supported U.S. troops in Somalia, Rwanda, Cuba, and Haiti. In 1996,
Red Cross workers provided humanitarian support and emergency communications
between service members and their families on Operation Joint Endeavor
in Bosnia and Hungary.
The Red Cross keeps military personnel
in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of
a family member or the birth of a child or in response to other family
emergencies. Red Cross emergency messages provide military personnel
and their commanders with fast, reliable information to help them make
decisions regarding emergency leave, deferment, compassionate reassignment,
and dependency discharges.
The Red Cross provides financial assistance,
either as an interest-free loan or as a grant, when an urgent personal
crisis arises. Financial assistance is provided to service members
who have demonstrated need for funds for such things as emergency travel,
burial assistance, or urgent health and welfare needs such as food and
The Red Cross offers couseling, information,
referrals, and other social services to military families. Red Cross
Armed Forces Emergency Services workers are neutral personnel to whom military
persons or family members can go for confidential problem solving.
The Red Cross provides assistance and
information to veterans about the Department of Veternas Affairs.
Red Cross workers assist veterans in the preparation, development, and
effort to obtain evidence to support claim for financial benefits through
the Board of Veterans Appeals. Also, through the Veterans Administration
Volunteer Services, Red Cross volunteers provide a number of support services
to patients in Veterans Administration hospitals.