Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to visit the Red Cross SAF Call Center in Ashburn Va. SAF stands for “Service to the Armed Forces,” and the SAF Call Center is a place where the soldiers and their families and local Red Cross Chapters can call the Red Cross for various kinds of assistance. After getting a tour of the center, I got a chance to talk to some of the staff to learn more about the kinds of help the Red Cross provides these soldiers. I learned that the Red Cross helps in more ways than I had ever imagined.
For example, if a soldier who is overseas hears that his or her family member back home is sick, the Red Cross will immediately try to help the soldier by verifying whether the story is true. In this case, the SAF Call Center would work with the Red Cross chapter located closest to the soldier’s family; the chapter would then work directly with the hospital and soldier’s family to find out the details. The verification usually may take about 4 – 5 hours on average (depending on a number of variables). The soldier’s commander would then be told of the situation and would decide if the soldier could leave to visit his or her sick family member. This may sound like a very complicated process, but it must happen quickly because of the urgency.
The SAF Call Center gets many other types of calls as well. Some are happy calls like the soldier’s wife is having a baby. Sometimes the caretaker of the soldier’s children is not able to take care of them because of lack of money, or a sickness and the family asks if the parent could come home to take care of their child.
The Red Cross answers over 1,000 calls per day from soldiers stationed all over the world and from local Red Cross Chapters. All of the staff working there work very hard and are devoted to helping people. Many used to serve in the military and are now trying to help other soldiers, and based on what I saw during my visit, it was pretty obvious that they are doing so.
Here are some other facts I learned about the SAF Call Center during my visit:
1. The SAF Call Center is working 24 hours a day every day.
2. Have many Red Cross members deployed overseas with soldiers.
3. Answers over 1,000 calls per day (Sometimes as many as 600,000 per year)