Red Cross Drops the Ball

Recently, my Grandfather passed away. My dad sent a Red Cross notice to me of this event. I received a Red Cross message to this effect roughly 5 hours after my father sent it. My unit told me that they could not send me on emergency leave because the message did not specify that my presence was requested at the funeral and only said that I should call home. They said that if a second message was sent specifically requesting my presence, I would be able to go. I called home and relayed that message to my father. He told me that he did tell the Red Cross that I was wanted at the funeral, but that part didn’t make it to me. He then sent a second message to communicate this request. That message never made it to me (it was sent 72 hours ago). The funeral is tomorrow morning, so there is now no chance of me making it on time.

According to my unit, one possibility as to why I didn’t get the second message (and why I got an incomplete first message) is that the Red Cross determined that I was not close enough to my Grandfather in order to be afforded the opportunity to go on emergency leave. It’s beyond me how they could make that determination having never met my Grandfather nor myself. So instead of being with my family during this time of loss, I’m sitting in Kuwait doing absolutely nothing. That’s right, nothing. Our unit is simply awaiting a flight out so we can finish out-processing in the States. The only thing we have left to do in Kuwait is clear customs… and that can’t be done until just before you get on the plane.

12 Replies to “Red Cross Drops the Ball”

  1. I’m very sorry to hear that. But I think you shouldn’t speculate on the reasons why the message didn’t reach you. Try to find out as soon as you can and speak to the people of the Red Cross. They have done invaluable work for many many people all over the world and I wouldn’t be so quick to blame it on unwillingness on their part.

  2. Well, it is obviously speculation to say that they chose not to send the message. The only other possibility I can think of is that they simply failed to deliver the message. If it weren’t for the fact that one message already reached me, I might chalk it up to them simply not being able to find my unit (we are kinda in transit right now… neither at our TDY post nor back in the States). However, if one message can find me, I see no reason why a second sent about 6 hours later couldn’t. I just don’t know what happened, all I know is the funeral was 2 days ago and I’m still sitting in Kuwait doing absolutly nothing.

  3. Sorry everything went so wrong with you coming back. We were all waiting anxiously to get the final word when you would come but then they told us you weren’t and we were all crushed.
    We miss you a lot and can’t wait to see you again.

    I’m sorry things ended up the way they did.

  4. Recently, my grandmother Alice Ferguson of ***edited*** passed away on the 26th of April 2006. I contacted the American Red Cross as well as my wife Robin G. Johnkins. To send a message to my unit which is ***edited***. Which is currently deployed to Iraq to help assist in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was home on emergency leave due to the illness of my grandmother. We contacted the American Red Cross from Madisonville Tn to get a message to my unit when my grandmother passed away requesting that I be granted 10 more days of leave where I could attend my grandmothers funeral. My unit is saying that they never received a Red Cross Message requesting the 10 days due to my grandmothers death. I need to obtain a copy of the Red Cross Message which should have been sent from the Madisonville office on or some time after the 26th of April 2006. Thank you very much and I will be waiting on a reply back SSG Johnkins Christopher S. US. Army.

  5. Well to be honest Im in your same Situation. I just got an emergency leave. My mother try commit suicided.. and by order of the doctor, he recoments for me to be there.. I got the message.. everything was clear.. the message said what my mother try to do and that she is sick… and by order of the doctor, he recommends my precense..we sent the message to the Battalion Commander and the battalion commander Disaproved.. Battalion commander said that there is nothing I can do for my mother back home, My battalion commander said I can help my mother Thru the phone. My 1SG went on Emergency Leave 2 times.. One because his father was sick ( no questions asked ) and then 3 days after he cames back he went back on emergency leave.. because his father die.. I told my commander… ” SO I will Be able to go home when my mother die? So then what Im going to do about it”? Its really sucks and Im very mad…

  6. Jake,
    Please remove the message posted by SSG Johnkins from the blog…talk about major OPSEC issues! I am very shocked that people are so ignorant to post such personal and specific details for the entire World to read (yes, that’s why it’s called the www (World-Wide Web)). This jeopardizes not only the NCO and his family, but all of us deployed fighting for freedom.

  7. Damn…I am going through the same thing right now, but I am up in ramadi, searching the internet for tips on what to tell the Red Cross…it’s a damn shame that you have to do this kind of thing to go home for a family member’s funeral.

    Sorry man, best of luck…


  8. I am sorry to hear of your loss. That is unfortuneate that Red Cross did not have the common sense to figure this stuff out and to me seems that they relied too heavily on the literal words in that letter you were talking about. I certainly agree that they “dropped the ball” on this one.

  9. This is horrible! I can’t believe this is how they would treat you!

    Perhaps if you could leave some contact details of exactly who to yell at. I could call someone up and yell angerly at them.

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