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PUBLISHED: 12:51 PM on Wednesday, July 5, 2006
Organization assists military personnel
American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services Program
On July 9 the Moving Wall will have its opening ceremonies at Vintage Park, across from Safeway, in Juneau.

Presented by the American Legion, Auke Bay Post 25, the wall is dedicated to those military members who gave their lives serving their country in Vietnam.

Following its congressional charter, the American Red Cross sent staff to assist and support the growing number of service members in Vietnam. By 1968 the American Red Cross had 480 field directors, hospital personnel and recreation workers throughout Southeast Asia.

The SRAO, Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas Program, brought relief from the realities of war to over 280,000 service members per month.

American Red Cross workers shared the same hardships of war.

Many Red Cross personnel were injured and five died as they helped service members deal with personal problems and return home due to family deaths or illness.

When service members returned to the states, the American Red Cross provided help in readjusting to civilian life and assisted with the paperwork so service personnel could receive their benefits.

Today the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services program is run through 800 chapters in the United States and 46 military installations throughout the world.

The American Red Cross is present with our troops in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Currently the American Red Cross briefs departing military members and their families regarding available support services.

In addition, the American Red Cross helps families identify the information they need to initiate and ease delivery of emergency messaging.

Noreen Watts, station manager in Balad Iraq, explained how the AFES messaging works.

"Once a message is dispatched, it arrives almost immediately. It usually is less than two hours for a message to be serviced," she said.

Using the latest in technology and communications equipment, the American Red Cross sends messages on behalf of the families of service members facing emergencies or to announce other important events, such as the birth of a child - most are serviced within 30 minutes.

Watts said that there are times when the power goes down or the unit is not easily accessible.

In those cases, it may take longer but every effort is made to deliver the message as soon as possible.

In 1905, the U.S. Congress granted the American Red Cross its second charter to "provide 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 Geneva...To act in matters of voluntary relief and in accord with the military authorities as a medium communication between the people of the United States and their Armed Forces."

Today we continue this mission by making the emergency services program available to all military members and their families 24 hours a day.

The American Red Cross of Alaska is supported by the generous donations of the Alaskan People enabling us to respond to emergencies here at home and to provide the critical programs such as AFES.

It does not receive any government funding but are mandated by the government to be first responders in times of disaster and national calamity.

To make a donation or to find out how to become a volunteer, call 463-5713.

The offices are located at 3200 Hospital Dr # 203 Juneau Alaska 99801 or go online to www.alaska.redcross.org.


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