The American Red Cross has helped to provide assistance to members of America's military and their families since the 1860s when Clara Barton was given the title of "Angel of the Battlefield" as she provided care to servicemen. Then, after the Civil War, Barton was authorized by President Lincoln to write letters to the family members to identify the fate of the missing soldiers to provide closure to the grieving parents, family and friends. Ever since then, the Red Cross has provided emergency services to the Armed Forces.
Included in the services offered is providing an objective, timely, confidential, factual, complete and verified report on emergency situations between members of the armed forces and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Family members can send a message through the Red Cross to their relatives whether deployed or in training, anywhere around the world. These emergency messages can include but are not limited to birth of a child, death in the family, or notification of a fatal illness of a family member.
Along with delivering emergency messages to military personnel, the Red Cross, in partnership with military aid societies, offers financial aid to eligible applicants to help with costs for emergency travel, burials or other financial emergencies. Financial aid is available to family members when emergency circumstances limit funds due to their serviceperson being away on active duty, and veterans. Financial aid could include travel, lodging and food costs and could be used for travel expenses of a service member's immediate family to funeral services of a service member killed on duty, utility assistance, and for emergency loans.
During the holidays, the Red Cross acknowledges that many service men and women are stationed away from their families. Every year the Red Cross organizes the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. For the past six years the Red Cross has partnered with Pitney Bowes, a mail-stream technology company, to continue this holiday tradition that allows Americans to send their best wishes to members of the armed forces.
"Sending a card to a member of our military forces is a simple but powerful gesture that anyone can do to show their support for those in the armed forces who are far from home and possibly in harm's way during this holiday season," said Kevin Connolly, Vice President and General Manager of North American Service Delivery, Pitney Bowes Management Services and Vice President, Strategic Transformation for Pitney Bowes. "The Holiday Mail for Heroes program allows anyone to easily say 'thank you' to members of our military forces at this time of year." All holiday greetings should be addressed and sent to: Holiday Mail for Heroes P.O. Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
Cards must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7; cards received after this date will be returned to senders. For reasons of processing and safety, participants are asked to refrain from sending "care packages," monetary gifts, using glitter or including any inserts with the cards.
The Red Cross aims to be of service to all members of the armed services: active members, veterans, reserves, the National Guard and their family members. These Red Cross services are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. For more information on American Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces please visit redcross.org/swny or visit your local American Red Cross of Southwestern NY office in Jamestown, Olean, or Wellsville. The American Red Cross of SWNY is a proud United Way Agency.