For more than 140 years, the American Red Cross has been providing services to U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Our founder, Clara Barton bravely provided nursing care and supplies to soldiers during the American Civil War. These actions earned her the nickname, Angel of the Battlefield. After the war, Clara found new ways to support the military and with the permission of President Lincoln, she opened the Office of Missing Soldiers, helping to reconnect more than 20,000 soldiers with their families.
In 1881, Clara founded the American Red Cross and in 1900, the newly founded organization received its first congressional charter. Since that day, the Red Cross has been tasked by the federal government with providing services to members of the American armed forces and their families as well as providing disaster relief in the country and around the world.
Since its beginnings, the American Red Cross has assisted victims of every war, dating back to the Spanish-American War. During the Second World War, the American Red Cross provided services to the United States Military, Allies, and civilian victims. Over 100,000 people enrolled as Red Cross nurses for military services and the Red Cross collected more than 13 million pints of blood to be used by the military. Red Cross volunteers have always answered the call when needed, and by 1945, 7.5 million volunteers were providing services to the military. By the end of the war, nearly every family in America contained a member who had either served as a Red Cross volunteer, made a financial or blood donation, or received a Red Cross service.
Recently, we had the opportunity to meet one of the recipients of Red Cross services overseas at an event for U.S. Veterans and military personnel in Hammond, Indiana. Joe Bomersback was serving the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II and fought in the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific. This battle cost the lives of over 1000 U.S. Marines and Sailors in just three days. After the battle, Joe who is now 100 years old, remembers seeing a Red Cross tent set up on the island, “After the invasion of three days, there was real turmoil because you didn’t have regular food lines to supply anything. The Red Cross was there. They had a tent and I still remember being able to get a cup of coffee that highlighted the day…and later on, they had a library with magazines that we could look for.” Joe also told us that the Red Cross was there to provide assistance to those serving in the military during a family emergency back home.
To this day, Red Cross volunteers and employees provide critical support to our armed forces at home and across the globe. The organization assists service members when family emergencies take place. In addition, Red Cross workers deploy to U.S. military bases overseas as part of our ongoing commitment to our military.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with our Services to the Armed Forces, please click here.
Written by Regional Communications Manager, Matthew Kline.