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Monday, April 11, 2016

Red Cross SAF Volunteer Experiences SAF Support

By Kyle Fiehler/American Red Cross

Army SPC Job Ojo, a native of Nigeria, is a member of the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Carson. He is also a Red Cross volunteer with the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) program. He understands the importance of emergency communications messages and the importance of keeping families connected during military deployments. However, as a Red Cross volunteer he never thought that he would need to experience Red Cross support first hand. Fortunately he did have the forethought to make sure his family knew how to use the services in the event of an emergency.

“I’d been trained by the Red Cross, so I knew pretty much about emergency situations and the need to get information to service members,” SPC Ojo said. “I gave the information out to my family members in Nigeria, just in case.”
SAF volunteer SPC Job Ojo holds a photo of his family
while standing with SAF managers Barbara Shufelt (l) and
Gaby Skovira (r) outside the Southeastern Colorado
Red Cross office in Colorado Springs, CO. Photo
by Richard Firth/American Red Cross

And then, one day, a family emergency occurred and the Red Cross was there to help.

In January of 2016, Ojo’s adoptive father— “the one who sent me to school,” in his words— was on the way to the Federal University of Technology in Minna, Nigeria where he served as a guest lecturer. He was driving along a road very early in the morning when his car struck a truck parked on the roadside. The passenger side where his father was sitting absorbed the brunt of the impact. He suffered serious head injuries and died a little while after the accident.

SPC Ojo’s sister was the first to be notified and she immediately began passing along the news to the rest of the family, but she was unsure of how to get in touch with SPC Ojo who was with his unit in the U.S.

Luckily, an elder brother remembered information he had been given regarding Red Cross services to use in an emergency. A call was made and a message was sent to unit Command alerting SPC Ojo to the emergency. That message put things in motion allowing him to reconnect with his family. Red Cross documentation also helped secure a zero interest loan from the Army, so that he could return to Nigeria for his father’s funeral.

“I’d just like to extend my appreciation to the Red Cross,” he said. “Getting the message through the Red Cross was helpful because my chain of command was notified and that helped a lot in processing my emergency leave travel to Nigeria to attend the funeral.”

SPC Job Ojo knew that the Service to Armed Forces program would help if there was a need to connect with his family anywhere in the world. He had worked emergency communication cases for other service members. He now has an even greater appreciation for the Red Cross and the SAF Emergency Communications Service.

Many Americans aren’t aware that, as one of its five core services, the Red Cross assists the U. S. military through the Service to Armed Forces program. Providing services to the armed forces for more than 100 years, the Red Cross takes pride in being that direct link between service members and their families. Emergency Communications is one of the activities provided by the SAF program and in 2015 over 350,000 emergency communications were provided to more than 100,000 military members and their families.

You can initiate a request for emergency assistance for members of the military currently serving on active duty by contacting our Red Cross Hero Care Center, 7 days-a-week, 24 hours-a-day. Using a computer, smart phone or tablet, you can start a request for services and track its progress from anywhere in the world at www.redcross.org/css. To speak to a Red Cross Emergency Communications Specialist call: 1-877-272-7337.

You can support our nation’s military through the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program as a volunteer or as a donor. Find out how you can help at www.redcross.org.

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