How To Send A Red Cross Message To A Member Of Military In An Emergency?

by Hank

Arlington National CemetaryFor decades, the American Red Cross has made it possible for loved ones, parents, spouses, and other relatives to get in touch with a member of the military who is serving overseas or are otherwise unavailable in the event of an emergency. The American Red Cross provides emergency communications services in addition to all of its other good works projects to keep members of the military in touch with their families after the death or during a serious illness of an immediate family member. A Red Cross message can also be sent to a service member in the event of the birth of a service member’s child or grandchild and other emergencies.

What Is A Red Cross Message?

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the American Red Cross can quickly send an emergency communications to a stateside or deployed service member on behalf of their family. The America Red Cross will deliver a Red Cross message notification in times of an emergency. Often commanding officers use the Red Cross-verified information from a Red Cross message to assist them with making a decision regarding whether or not to grant emergency leave. Recently a Soldier of mine received a Red Cross message about a grandfather who was on his deathbed. After talking with the grandfather’s attending physician from the information provided by the Red Cross message, the command team was able to determine just how serious the situation was and send the Soldier home as fast as possible. Without this verification provided from information by the Red Cross message, military members may not be able to return home during a family crisis or emergency.

What Information Do Family Members Need To Send A Red Cross Message?

When calling the American Red Cross, it helps them locate your loved one in the military if you can provide as much information about the Soldier as possible. At a minimum, you should have the following information about the service member when you initiate a Red Cross message:

  1. Full name
  2. Rank
  3. Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  4. Social Security Account number or date of birth
  5. Military address, location of the base or FOB if overseas in combat
  6. Information about the unit’s name (B Company, 123 Maintenance Battalion, etc.)

It will be dramatically easier for the American Red Cross to get the Red Cross message to your loved one if you have as much information as possible. One of the biggest problems that people run into is that their Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine have not provided their loved ones with the information needed (especially about unit’s name, FOB location, etc.) prior to leaving for deployment. Members of the military should make it easy on their loved ones by giving them this information just in case prior to deployment or as soon as they arrive overseas if possible.

How To Send A Red Cross Message?

If you need to initiate a Red Cross Message, you can call toll-free 1-877-272-7337. You can also contact your local Red Cross chapter which is listed in local your local phonebook or online at

Be sure that your loved ones have the information that they need in case an emergency happens at home. There should be no reason that loved ones are scrambling for information that they need when they are grieving or focused on a family crisis.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)


Veronique Jones May 11, 2011 at 2:27 am

My husband is presently in training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. While stationned in HI I am presently in France where I am originally from due to an emergency situation.

What is the process to send a red cross message to the commander where my husband is at? Which documents do I need from the hospital/doctors to provide if any.

Hank May 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The process is the same. Call the Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337 and provide them with your husband’s information and the reasons why you need him home. They should be able to help get him your message. You can also call your husband’s unit in Hawaii for help as well.

Cristy August 9, 2011 at 12:37 am

My husband just deployed Friday to afganistan and I just found out today I am a high risk pregnancy. Do I need to send a red cross message?

Pamela Rashaed February 12, 2012 at 9:08 am

I am a DOD Civilian Contractor and work for DynCorp Int’l in Khandahar, Afghanistan. My father is seriously ill with cancer in his brain, lung, spine and hip and he is 86 years old. He is now ging thru radiation and chemo and I hate to have to put it in writing..but I am afraid he will no tlast much longer. In prder for me to come home on emergency leave..(my husband is also here- but in Kabul) we must have messages sent from the Red Cross when it comes that time. How do we go about this? My son is also here and we really are concerned that my step-mother may not be in shape to notify Red Cross when the time comes…(there has been problems with her communicating in the past)
We really do not have anyone else to depend on to notify Red Cross….
Is it permissable for me to notify you RED CROSS when I recieve word that it is approaching ask you to e-mail me and my husband and son? (or does someone else have to notify other than one of us?)

Jennifer Forehand October 28, 2012 at 9:12 am

My husband is in korea and I am going in for a histerectomy. My parents can only stay the first week. However the revoery for the surgery is upo to 4 weeks. We have 5 children one special needs. Can I send a red cross message?

Betsy Vargas January 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm

My family is Colombia, how can they send me a red cross message to state side?

James Julius Jacobs January 23, 2015 at 9:28 am

Hank, I don’t know your rank or your status; I believe that The Active Duty Military too Support their Veterans First along with the Civilians. If the Active Duty Military do not do their best to Support all Veterans around the city of the Military Bases so that the Civilians can see The Active Duty Solddiers doing their do diligence; then the Civilians wont have an excuse. My Son (name sake) needs too learn too Support his Decorated Veteran Father as just being Patriotic too the Flag that I present.. Thanks for listening. 5696

Kanisha Hoskins May 10, 2015 at 12:58 am

I’m not even sure if my brother is still serving in the Army. I am looking for Troy Muse, I believe his birthday is 8-15-76, the last place I remember he was at was Georgia that’s all I can remember. The message, I was trying to get to him is, I’m still in TX and I’m getting married July 25th 2015. I would really like for him to be here.

eliazbeth May 30, 2015 at 8:08 pm

This number doesn’t work!!!!!!!

marcela vega October 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Hi my dad is I the last week’s of stage 4 cancer and I’m planning on going to see him before he passes I was wondering if the Red Cross will cover for tickets to go home my husband is an active duty we are currently in HI if the Red Cross will cover do we have to pay back or how does it work? I need answers

Lori December 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Im hoping my message reaches my sailor as soon as possible. His brother has passed and we need him home from deployment. This is horrendous. Its just awful. The gentleman I spoke with could not have been kinder and more gentle. Thank you so much for this service. I truly did not know where to turn and immediately thought… Red Cross.

Jose January 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

My grandma passed away in El Salvador during her vacation is there a way to get a red cross from that country? or is there another way to get a red cross from over there granted family that is there only speak spanish.

Aaron Daniels June 24, 2016 at 8:36 am

Can I receive a red cross message for someone who isn’t a direct family member, such as my grandfather? He’s currently in the hospital quite a ways away, I don’t know what for, and I want to take emergency leave.

rebecca September 28, 2016 at 1:36 pm

hello everyone im looking for my daughter father named joseph frederick from maryland usa , he is a small adverage build with very short hair, he is about 27 years old and black male in the military , and last know based in germary usa military resource centers ,, his daughter name is cheslea and we are in real need of his help ,,if anyone know him or off him please contact asap my name is rebecca and my email is [email protected] thank you i hope someone can help us x

Autumn Bradley October 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

My husband is in traNing and we just discovered that his father who is in his early 70s has a heart blockage and is going to have to have open heart surgery. Should I call red Cross to inform him??

Lori Schweizer January 1, 2018 at 9:49 am

Hi Im Lori,
My problem is with Red Cross. We tried 3x to get them to send something to my Marine’s about her uncle only having a couple days left to live. They refused all 3 times. We explained that her Sgt gave her permission to leave but needed a message from Red Cross. They said no because it was an uncle. He passed yesterday from bone cancer.

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