America's Military and The American Red Cross Partnership

This list does not include ARC Disaster Response providing lifesaving aid, food, shelter, cash and counselling, for the millions impacted by fires,earthquakes, floods and Terrorism. It does not include Blood Services and Large-scale Community Outreach. It is the list of Response in Wars. Find more about these topics at Redcross.org. The American Red Cross has a long history of providing service to member's of Americaís military and their families in times of war. In more recent history, that service is provided during conflicts, peacekeeping, peacemaking and humanitarian operations. Beginning in the mid-1800s the organization's founder, Clara Barton, risked her life on the battlefields of the Civil War to tend to fallen soldiers. The services she gave were ìpilot activitiesî foreshadowing the great volunteer services later provided by the American Red Cross to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families. Barton nursed the wounded, wrote letters from wounded soldiers to their families and exerted every effort to get the critically ill and wounded to or near their families. She helped to keep the morale of the troops high. In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. The organization of the American Red Cross culminated the cooperative efforts of warm-hearted Americans ñ relief efforts that had been foremost in Clara Bartonís thoughts and activities since 1861 when she began to learn the ìtrue face of war.î 

Spanish-American War. The Spanish-American War of 1898 was the first time the American Red Cross provided services to members of the American armed forces at war. When the United States declared war on Spain, American Red Cross President Clara Barton, age 76, traveled to hospitals recruiting nurses to work for the Army at medical camps in Florida and Cuba. Clara Barton, along with Red Cross nurses, went to Cuba to provide nursing care, medical supplies, food and other necessities to American service members. The American Red Cross also provided a non-medical service for the armed forces--carrying on a limited communications service which handled inquiries from families. These American Red Cross efforts to relieve suffering did not go unnoticed. In 1900, the U.S. Congress granted the American Red Cross the first charter. In 1905 the American Red Cross was chartered to ìprovide volunteer aid to the sick and wounded of the Armed Forces in time of war, in accordance with the spirit and conditions of the conference of GenevaÖ.To act in matters of voluntary relief and in accord with the military authorities as a medium of communication between the people of the United States and their Armed ForcesÖ.î 

World War I. On the brink of war with Germany in 1916, the Surgeon General asked that the American Red Cross organize 58 base hospitals in France and elsewhere. When the U.S. went to war in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed a War Council to run the Red Cross. As the war continued, American Red Cross volunteer and paid workers provided medical and recreational services for the military at home and abroad. The war increased the awareness for the needs of military families. The Red Cross established a Home Service Program with emphasis on financial, social, medical problems and communications. They also pioneered the development of psychiatric nursing programs at veterans' hospitals, made artificial limbs and helped rehabilitate amputees and blinded veterans. Eighteen thousand American Red Cross nurses provided much of the medical care for the American military during World War I, and 4,800 Red Cross ambulance drivers, including Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway, provided first aid on the front lines. The American Red Cross established 22 front-line canteens in Europe, serving drinks, food, and encouragement to passing troops, to ambulance and truck drivers, and to wounded service members who lay on stretchers outside operating rooms. In France alone, Red Cross canteens served over 15 million mobile troops and 92,000 wounded. During World War I, 296 American Red Cross nurses and 127 American Red Cross ambulance drivers died in service to humanity. 

World War II. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, America once again turned to the Red Cross to support troops overseas and at home. The Red Cross responded, and expanded its services. More than 104,000 registered nurses recruited by the American Red Cross served in military hospitals at home and overseas. The only organization authorized by the U.S. government to provide canteens on military posts, the American Red Cross again offered a comforting oasis for troops and support personnel. Red Cross volunteer and paid workers also provided emergency message services, as required by the American Red Cross' congressional charter. Twenty-seven million American Red Cross packages were distributed to American and Allied prisoners of war, providing life-sustaining supplemental rations. During World War II, the American Red Cross provided social workers and recreation specialists to ease the discomfort of newly-drafted civilians. Clubs and clubmobiles operated in rest and recreation areas in the field and at military hospitals, hospital ships and hospital trains. In the years leading up to World War II, Dr. Charles Drew found a way to dry blood plasma, extending its useful life from days to weeks and making it possible to ship massive amounts of plasma to military in desperate need overseas. Organized at the request of the Surgeon General, the American Red Cross blood donor project added a new dimension to Red Cross services and collected 13.3 million units of blood for American servicemen. 78 Red Cross workers died while serving overseas during World War II. 

Korean War. American Red Cross services grew during the Korean War. President Harry Truman established the Federal blood program in 1951, designating the Red Cross as the blood collecting agency for defense needs, and more than five million pints of blood were collected for the armed forces. At the request of General Douglas MacArthur, the Red Cross expanded its emergency mobile recreation service, serving not only American troops, but all United Nations forces. Eventually, there were 24 Red Cross canteen and clubmobile units operating in Korea, including those at airfields and at a mobile surgical hospital. The American Red Cross provided emergency communication from family members about illnesses, deaths and births throughout the war, a free "first-call-home" program for those wounded in action and millions of envelopes and sheets of paper so wounded service members could write letters to home. When the armistice was signed in 1953 representatives from the American Red Cross and the Korean Red Cross ensured the smooth transfer of nearly 90,000 prisoners of war during "Operation Big Switch." Two Red Cross workers gave their lives in service to the American Red Cross during the Korean Conflict. 

The Korean War is the longest war in the history of the world. Technically, the United Nations is still at war with North Korea. U.S. troops have served in large numbers in South Korea since 1953. The Red Cross maintained a mobile recreation program to provide morale activities for members of the U.S. armed forces from 1953 until 1973 when the program was closed. Approximately 800 staff served in this program during its existence. Red Cross staff has been assigned in South Korea continuously since 1953, providing emergency communications to members of the military and their families. They also provide other Red Cross services including health and safety training, disaster preparedness and relief, and volunteer programs. Today there are 14 Red Cross staff members assigned in nine locations in South Korea supporting the 37,000 members of the U.S. military and their families. If hostilities were to break out on the Korean peninsula, these staff members would remain to support the wartime emergency communications needs of the service members and their families. 

Vietnam. In 1962, the American Red Cross sent its first paid field staff to Vietnam to assist the growing number of service members at various bases and hospitals. At the height of its involvement in 1968, 480 American Red Cross field directors, hospital personnel and recreation workers served throughout Southeast Asia. In response to a request by the military, American Red Cross clubmobile workers brought recreation to an average of 280,500 service members each month. They logged over two million miles in jeeps, trucks and helicopters during the program's seven-year history. American Red Cross workers shared the hardships and privations of war with the military. Five Red Cross staff members gave their lives. Many others were injured as they helped service members resolve personal problems or get home when emergency leave was granted due to death or serious illness in their immediate family. When Vietnam veterans returned to the United States, American Red Cross employees and volunteers concentrated on helping them readjust to civilian life, often assisting them with paperwork connected with their benefits. 

Bay of Pigs Invasion. The American Red Cross and the Cuban Red Cross joined efforts in 1963 to help the Cuban Families Committee arrange the release of 751 Cuban exiles and their families following the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion. Following their release, American Red Cross volunteers distributed comfort items to the former prisoners, staffed canteens, assisted with transportation and temporary housing arrangements and rendered nursing services. 

Operation Desert Shield/Storm (Persian Gulf War). Five days after the launch of Operation Desert Shield in August 1990, the first American Red Cross workers arrived in the Persian Gulf region. Over the next year a total of 158 American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services workers worked and lived side-by-side with the men and women they were there to support facing the same dangers of war. Red Cross staff carried 215,000 emergency messages to and from the troops and provided support and comfort. Back home, American Red Cross employees and volunteers aided more than 4,700 service members and their families with $1.72 million in emergency financial assistance and other services. In fulfilling their duties in the Persian Gulf area, seven American Red Cross workers received the Bronze Star for meritorious service. 

Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services workers were deployed to Somalia in December 1992. They lived and worked in the same rustic conditions and dangerous environment as U.S. troops in Mogadishu. Between December 1992 and April 1994, 18 staff members relayed almost 11,000 emergency messages relating to death or critical illness of a family member or a birth of a new baby. Staff also distributed items to the troops donated by the American people. In January and February 1993 they distributed over 20,000 blank Valentine Day cards to service members to send home to families and friends. 

Operation Support Hope in Rwanda. In the summer of 1994, three Red Cross staff members supported the humanitarian U.S. military mission in Rwanda. They deployed with troops from V Corps in Europe to Kigali. The mission lasted approximately eight weeks. 

Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. The first Red Cross team arrived in Haiti with troops of the XVIII Airborne Corps. From January 1994 until April 1996, 17 Red Cross workers deployed to live and work alongside the members of the U.S. military. Staff served at Camp-Haitian and Port-au-Prince. More than 2,300 service members and their families received emergency communications assistance. The American Red Cross distributed quality of life items donated by the American people. These included such things as blank greeting cards for the troops to send home to family and friends, videos, playing cards and books. They also ran a canteen serving coffee, cold drinks, cookies, candy, crackers, and other assorted goodies. 

Operation Sea Signal in Cuba. Between September 1994 and August 1995, four Red Cross staff members provided emergency communications support to the U.S. Military Task Force working with Cuban and Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay as a result of Operation Uphold Democracy. 

Operation Vigilant Warrior in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. To support the significant military build up in the Gulf area, seven Red Cross staff deployed to Camp Doha, Kuwait and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Staff provided emergency communications support between October 1994 and January 1995. 

Operation Vigilant Sentinel in Kuwait. Between August 1995 and January 1996, two Red Cross staff provided emergency communications support to members of the military sent to Kuwait in response to military activities in Iraq. 

Operation Joint Endeavor/Joint Guard/Task Force Eagle in Croatia, Hungary and Bosnia. Between January 1996 and October 2002, 128 Red Cross staff members served in Croatia, Hungary and Bosnia. Red Cross offices were located in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, Lukavac and Tuzla, Bosnia and Tasar, Hungary. They handled over 41,000 emergency messages during this operation. Staff operated 24/7 canteens serving coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cold drinks. They distributed snack items donated by the American people and visited service members at outlying camps. The Red Cross office at Tuzla closed in October 2002 due to the minimal number of emergency messages being received and the expanded military infrastructure available to the service members. Emergency messages continue to be delivered through the Red Cross office in Stuttgart, Germany. 

Operation Intrinsic Action in Kuwait. Thirty-two Red Cross staff began supporting U.S. service members deploying to Kuwait in March 1996 and continue to do so today. The Red Cross office at Camp Doha, Kuwait serves all U.S. military members in Kuwait. The staff provide a canteen, video and book libraries, TV room with movies, games, puzzles, and a place to relax. The Red Cross office is appropriately named ìThe Desert Oasisî. Staff visit outlying areas where U.S. troops are living and working. 

Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. With the buildup of U.S. military forces in Kuwait for Operation Desert Thunder, six Red Cross staff were deployed to support the increased population in the area. They relayed more than 1,000 emergency messages between February and July 1998. They also provided morale support by distributing books, videos, games, candy, coffee and cold drinks. Three staff were assigned with the troops in the Kabal area in northern Kuwait while the others remained at Camp Doha, Kuwait. 

Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia. Thirty-six Red Cross staff have been deployed to Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia from March 1998 through today. They support members of the military in Saudi Arabia and also provide emergency communications services to U.S. service members in the Gulf region outside Kuwait and Bahrain. The staff average 4,500 emergency messages a year. They also provide a canteen, videos, books, snack and hygiene items. These items are also distributed to service members throughout the region. They average about 60 Red Cross volunteers from the ranks of service members deployed to PSAB. Included among their volunteers are several British airmen and soldiers who enjoy being involved with the American Red Cross. 

Operation Joint Endeavor/Task Force Falcon in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. In April 1999 the first three Red Cross staff arrived in Albania supporting V Corps troops from Europe. After a month, the team moved to Camp Bondsteel and Camp Montieth in Kosovo. The Red Cross currently maintains an office at Camp Bondsteel supporting all U.S. military members in Kosovo and Skopje, Macedonia. Fifty-seven staff have supported this operation from April 1999 through today. They have handled over 11,500 emergency messages since 1999. In addition they make regular trips to outlying areas to visit with the service members and distribute donated items to them. The canteen is a very popular place and they have a large video and book library in addition to games and puzzles. The Red Cross office is also visited frequently by coalition forces. 

Operation Enduring Freedom in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The first Red Cross staff arrived in Uzbekistan on Christmas Day 2002. They lived in very austere conditions and served all U.S. troops in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan. After approximately 220 days, the Red Cross moved to Bagram AB, Afghanistan to service the same area. After another 90 days, an additional office was opened at Kandahar. The staff have handled almost 7,500 emergency messages from arrival in Uzbekistan through the present. Both offices run canteens and have video and book libraries. They both distribute items to troops in outlying areas. Twenty-one staff have served in these locations to date. 

Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait/Iraq. The first 12 Red Cross staff arrived in Kuwait on January 25, 2003 to support this operation. As of April 13, 2003, there are 31 Red Cross staff in Kuwait supporting the Army Forces Central Command, 3rd Infantry Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, V Corps, 101st Airborne Division, 377th Theater Support Command, and 4th Infantry Division. This is the largest Red Cross deployment since Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The staff members are living in the same harsh and stressful environment and conditions the U.S. military. The staff have handled over 20,000 emergency messages and distributed over 35,000 comfort kits with personal items to 11 field hospitals and troops throughout Kuwait and Iraq. Each team also offers a canteen and several of them now have video and book libraries. Several teams will be moving forward into Iraq in the near future. An additional five staff members are expected to arrive in country by the end of April. 

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