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Monday, September 29, 2003
American Red Cross of Rhode Island Mobilizing Support for Military Families -- Armed Forces Emergency Services commended by Senator

With the tragic news of yet another local soldier's death, and with so many military personnel still serving in Iraq, the American Red Cross of Rhode Island wants military families to "Get to Know Us Before You Need Us." This program informs soldiers and their families in advance that communication links, access to financial assistance and counseling will be available in an emergency.

"Every day, the Red Cross carries the sad news of a death or illness of a family member, or the joyful news of a birth, to servicemen and women worldwide, and we often arrange emergency travel, enabling military families to be together," said Barbara E. McGann, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Rhode Island. "The long separations and stressful situations that occur when a service member deploys often place a serious emotional strain on families," McGann continued. "The Red Cross links military personnel and their families through services which include confidential counseling as well as neutral, impartial assistance when and where needed, particularly during times of crisis at home."

The American Red Cross is the only agency authorized by the United States Armed Forces to serve as the official communication link between soldiers and their families.  They have the ability to connect local families with soldiers stationed at every base around the globe and every ship at sea. This past year, a total of 559 Armed Forces Emergency Service cases were handled by the RI Red Cross.

"The importance of the American Red Cross of Rhode Island has never been greater than it is today," stated Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).  "Our military men and women serving around the globe can rest assured that the Red Cross of Rhode Island will always be there when they need them most."

Just last week, the RI Red Cross provided air transportation to three small children so they could be at the bedside of their father, who was critically injured while serving overseas. When RI lost several of its hometown soldiers recently, the RI Red Cross assisted family members with transportation to funeral services. Earlier this year, Red Cross volunteers arranged and assisted with transportation for local parents to fly overseas to be with their wounded son. 

"I know from firsthand experience how important the Red Cross is to our men and women in uniform," McGann stated, reflecting on her 32 years of service in the United States Navy.  "There is no more important issue today than supporting members of our Armed Forces who are risking their lives. We urgently need the support of Rhode Islanders to make sure we can say yes when called upon." 

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