Red Cross of Alaska Service to the Armed Forces Spotlight: MEPS briefings

MEPS sign
Anchorage MEPS is where all new military members statewide take their Oath of Enlistment.

Each Monday and Tuesday, the Red Cross attends MEPs (Military Entrance Processing) briefings. We are the first faces new service members see after they take their Oath Of Enlistment.

The Red Cross overview assures new military members and their families that help is always available. Here are a few examples of Red Cross services to the armed forces:

Coping with Deployments

Prepare families to navigate the separations throughout their military career.

Emergency Services

Deliver verified messages during an emergency at home. Access to financial assistance and resources.

Reconnection Workshops

Build skills for successful reintegration at home, work and in communities

VA Hospital

Provide comfort and build morale, enhance therapy programs

Veteran Services

Provide information & referral services, assist with Veteran Appeals

Christy presenting at MEPS
Christy Cook, Red Cross of Alaska Service to the Armed Forces Manager, briefs new military members on Red Cross services to military as well as their families.

History of Services to the Armed Forces (SAF)

The Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) program dates back to the establishment of the American Red Cross by Clara Barton in May 1881. Not only did the “Angel of the Battlefield” risk her life tending to soldiers wounded in the Civil War, she bolstered their morale by writing letters for them to send to their families. Today’s American Red Cross workers proudly carry on this tradition through the SAF program, which serves as a critical line of communication between the U.S Armed Forces and their families.

Alaska SAF

The Red Cross of Alaska has Service to the Armed Forces offices located on JBER, Ft. Wainwright and Eielson AFB staffed by Red Cross employees and volunteers. However, SAF is available to serve service members and their families in every region of Alaska including all National Guard, Reserve and Coast Guard installations.

Red Cross of Alaska SAF Program Successes in Fiscal Year 2017:

  • Assisted service members and their families with 957 emergency and critical community cases.
  • Of those 957 emergency and critical community cases, 81% were done by SAF volunteers.
  • Briefed 8,186 service members and their families in “Get to Know Us” briefs.
  • According to a recent survey, 93% of military members and their families who used Red Cross of Alaska SAF emergency communications messaging services scored the service as excellent.

For more information on Red Cross of Alaska SAF, visit:

Misty Bruce, Ranie Siscar, Donovan Keller, Christy Cook


July Volunteer Anniversaries

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

Our vital work is only possible because of people like you.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.


Stay Safe and Have Fun on the Water this Summer

This blog was originally posted to the Alaska Children’s Trust blog page, and we have re-posted to share with our readers. 

By Lisa Miller, Red Cross of Alaska Regional Communications Officer


In Alaska, we are great at capitalizing on these short but precious summer months. With nearly 24 hours of sunlight and endless exploration opportunities, adults and children alike are itching to get out and get on the water.

Whether you’re heading out for a day of deep sea halibut fishing, or kayaking around your neighborhood lake, take a few moments to consider these aquatic safety tips from the Red Cross of Alaska before you and the kids head out to make a splash.

Plan Ahead

First thing’s first. Before making plans to spend time in or around water with your children, make sure you all know how to swim.

It is the mission of the Red Cross to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program helps fulfill that mission by teaching people to be safe in, on and around the water through water safety courses for individuals of a wide range of ages and abilities. American Red Cross Aquatics and Safety Classes are offered at many pools across the state of Alaska. Call your local pool to learn more about classes.

Once the entire family knows how to swim, you’re ready to plan your first trip out on the water. As your trip draws near, remember to check the weather. Weather conditions can change suddenly, so always check the forecast before heading out.

In the event you run into bad weather or an emergency situation, Ray Miller, a Red Cross of Alaska volunteer and member of the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) in Fairbanks, says it’s a good idea to pack some means of communicating, such as a whistle and signal mirror that can be used to alert a rescuer. A hand crank radio is a good item to have packed away in a wet bag as well. It will ensure you always have a way to tune in to local weather reports and emergency messaging.

You can build your own boat first aid/survival kit, or shop the Red Cross Store for a ready-to-go kit.

Miller also suggests telling someone when you go out on the water. If you are going out for just a few hours, let someone know where you plan to go, and when you will return. If you are planning a boat trip longer than a few hours, Miller says to file a written float plan. According to the USPS, a float plan includes a description of your boat, who is on board, a description of the safety equipment you are carrying, where you expect to be, and when you expect to be there.

You can download a USPS float plan here:

USPS says the person holding your float plan should notify the Coast Guard or other appropriate agency if you do no not return within a reasonable time.

circle of drowning preventionLife Jackets. Life Jackets. Life Jackets … Did We Mention Life Jackets?

There’s a lot involved in boating/water safety, especially for children, but a key factor is that everyone, especially children, use properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are on, in and around the water.

“The best tip I would have for parents of kids is to set the example for your kids and always wear a life jacket when boating,” Miller says. “Second suggestion would be to buy your child a life jacket that fits them and is appropriate for the activity they will be engaged in and most importantly one they will wear. Third, take your child to a pool or other swimming area and let them try out their life jacket to gain confidence that it will keep them afloat.”

Miller added the water in Alaska can be very cold and even on warm sunny days it will not take long for even the strongest swimmer to become unable to swim to shore, pull themselves back into the boat or help a buddy.

How do I choose a life jacket?

When choosing a life jacket:

  • Make sure it is the right type for the activity.
  • Make sure it is U.S. Coast Guard approved. Look for the stamp on the life jacket.
  • Make sure it fits the intended user. Check the label on the life jacket for weight limits.
  • Check buckles and straps for proper function. Discard any life jacket with torn fabric or loose straps.
  • Put it on and practice swimming with it.
  • Water wings, swim rings, inflatable toys and other items designed for water recreation are not substitutes for U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or adult supervision.

Life Jackets Aren’t Just for Boats

Young children and weak swimmers should wear life jackets whenever they are in, on or around the water, even at a pool or a waterpark. Put it on at the dock, deck or shore and don’t take it off until you are on dry land.

Finally, this Kids Don’t Float Activity Book from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is a great way to get the kids excited for your boating trip while also teaching them to be safe around water.

May you have a safe and happy summer with your loved ones!

LMheadshotLisa Miller is the Regional Communications Officer for the Red Cross of Alaska.

100 Smoke Alarms for 100 Years Centennial Challenge

Lori-Tanguy 100 Smoke Alarms for 100 Years Challange

Announcing the “100 Smoke Alarms for 100 Years Centennial Challenge.” We are almost at the half way point of our Centennial Year at the American Red Cross of Alaska. So we’ve started a friendly competition between Lori Wilson, our Executive Director in Fairbanks & Tanguy Libbrecht, our CEO in Anchorage.

Challenge rules:
1. Challenge begins today!
2. You must install or assist in the install of each smoke alarm in order for it to count.
3. The challenge ends once the two of you combined reach 100 smoke alarms installed.
4. The winner is the individual with the most installs.
5. In the event you have clinched the win…..just keep going anyway.
6. In the event of a tie….everyone wins!!

Challenge starts now! Thank you to our donors who’ve made 100 years of service possible!

For more information on how you can support our Home Fire Campaign and other efforts, please visit: