The American Red Cross, part of the worldwide Red Cross movement, is chartered by Congress to provide Service to the Armed Forces and when disaster strikes.
For military families, SAF usually involves verifying a family emergency and sending an Emergency Communication Message that documents the emergency and provides service members and their command with information needed to make leave decisions. Military aid societies use the ECM when deciding how to assist when financial aid is necessary.
The ARC office serving JBER is in the 673d Medical Group, 2B-107, on the second floor, across from the Optometry Clinic. The phone number is 907-552-5253.
To initiate an ECM, call the SAF Center, 24/7, at 877-272-7337, where all emergency messages begin. The caller should have the following information: service member’s name, rank, Social Security number, date of birth, unit name and unit location (if deployed, deployed address and the unit’s home base). Information about the emergency should include the name, location and phone number for the verifying entity (hospital, funeral home, police, etc.), and a family member as the point of contact on the verifying end to make the verification go smoothly. For a medical verification, the attending physician, or other medical staff who can speak on behalf of the physician, must provide a diagnosis, prognosis, current condition, life expectancy (if an issue), and the doctor’s recommendation for the presence of the service member and family members. When these critical pieces of information are obtained, the message can be delivered to the command for leave decisions and paperwork processing through military personnel offices, SATO and the military aid society, if needed.
During a disaster when families are separated and no contact has been made, families staying in Red Cross shelters can register on the Safe and Well website set up for that shelter location. This allows family members outside the disaster area to locate those who have registered, using an online search tool and home address or phone number for displaced family members.
Volunteers are the heart of the American Red Cross. Volunteers in select locations in the hospital, in the SAF office and at the chapter office in Anchorage can help in numerous ways, including office work, disaster response and community preparedness. The chapter website has more information; visit www.redcross.org/local/alaska. Additional information is available at the chapter from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays or by phone at 907-646-5400.