New Red Cross Messages To Relay ‘Dear John Letters’, Sports Scores

Red Cross Worker In Afghanistan
A Red Cross Worker In Afghanistan Looks Up Stats On ESPN.com

CAMP PENDLETON, CA – Members of the American Red Cross held a press conference last week with the 1st Marine Division to proudly announce that Red Cross emergency messages would now carry both ‘Dear John letters’ and sports scores.

“For the longest time people have only associated Red Cross emergency messages with things like the death, severe illness of a family member, or birth of a child,” said William Gossett, regional manager for the Red Cross’ western district.

“But now we can also inform you that your favorite football team just won the big game, or that your wife is leaving you due to your sexual inadequacy.”

According to Gossett, multiple surveys over the past two years showed the majority of deployed servicemen and women were overwhelmingly in favor of adding both.

Message-traffic has increased ten-fold in the days since the policy change, going from 68 messages a day to over 700.

Reactions by deployed personnel have varied.

“Yeah, it’s totally cool,” said Corporal Chris Dirksen. “We were in the middle of a firefight when this Osprey came in low over the battlefield and said: ‘CORPORAL DIRKSEN! THE NATIONALS HAVE BEAT THE CARDINALS 7-4!’ I was so stoked I actually high-fived the Taliban I was slicing open with a bayonet!”

Sergeant Shaniqua Johnson, with Explosive Ordnance Disposal, had a different story.

“I was right in the middle of placing a charge on this 400 pound command-wire IED when my Battalion Sergeant Major comes rolling up in a truck yelling, ‘Sergeant Johnson! Gary says it’s over! Keep the kids! He doesn’t care!'”

“I suppose it wouldn’t have been that bad if my Staff Sergeant hadn’t immediately asked if that meant I was single now.”

Although the Red Cross’ actions have been highly applauded by the service chiefs as “waking up to the reality of deployment,” the move may very well bankrupt the Red Cross organization over time.

Red Cross officials have privately spoke about being overwhelmed by the influx of requests. Three of their dedicated servers have shut down due to the massive increase in traffic and dozens of employees have quit for stress-related reasons.

The Red Cross has already begun revamping the entire program.

One official, speaking off the record, said “the Red Cross messages used to be relatively costless for us, as the only expenses needed were the manpower to make the phone call or send the email. But if this keeps up we may be broke in as little as four months.”

Duffel Blog investigative journalist Fernando also contributed to this report.


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7 Comments

  1. is there a policy regarding service members and red cross messages while serving in Afghanistan? Anything stating what is supported by ISAF or the unit in order to send the soldier home or not

  2. I was the JAG for a brigade of Guardsmen on the ground in SW Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I swear to God that I never saw so damn many “Dead Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, cat, dog…” as well as “Your wife/husband just filed for divorce and got temporary custody of the kids and your paychecks.” We were putting people back on the plane two days after we hit the ground. Three weeks later when we returned home, i was surprised that Ohio wasn’t empty.

    • My absolute best message: “These kids is out of control. My 14 year old girl is pregnant, my 13 year old son is in jail and I just can’t take it.”

  3. The 2 a.m delivery time in theater always ticked me off. We always had to get up and deal with it. I don’t know about other units but in ours, with 300 pax, I think we had something like 120 dead grandparents, assorted dead aunts and uncles, and such. Given the number of Red Cross messages with dead relatives back in the states, it seemed like we would come home to an empty country.

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