Red Cross connects military services members with their families via mobile

The American Red Cross' newest mobile application, Hero Care, aims to connect military service members with their families and vice versa, showcasing mobile?s unique abilities as the most ubiquitous digital channel.

The app includes a variety of features meant to simplify the communication between service members and their families and loved ones. It also is designed to help families receive emergency assistance should they need it.

?Today?s military is 80 percent millennials, who get most of their information from the internet and mobile,? said Peter Macias, director of communications at The American Red Cross. ?The Red Cross sees the need to keep up and provide that segment of the military with information the way they consume it, and that is why this app is so important.?

Emergency contact
The application, which the Red Cross calls its Hero Care app, houses many of the standard Red Cross services, such as emergency services and information on military family members, all in one app.

Previously, military families that wanted to check on their family members in service would have to call the standard Red Cross number, (877)-272-7737, which is still usable, go online or go to a Red Cross facility in person. The problem with those options is that they requires the family to have all of their information with them and can be slow, especially in an emergency situation.

?What I am excited about is that when a military family uses this app especially in an emergency, they do not have to struggle with where they left their important information,? Mr. Macias said. ?They?re not digging through papers. It?s all there.?

Conversely, the Hero Care app allows families to save all the relevant information about their sons or daughters in service, update the information when it changes and use it with the tap of the button to check in on their serving family members.

Some of the features include standard Red Cross emergency services and non-emergency services, easy access to information on a serving family member, direction to local resources such as Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and Goodwill and direction to government resources such as the department of labor and the VA.

Keeping up
The American Red Cross has tackled mobile apps before. Its Blood Donor app released in 2014 and helped connect donors with donation centers, as well as incentivizing multiple donations (see story).

The organization?s first app was released in 2012. Around the same time, the Red Cross updated its Web site to be more mobile-friendly, showing how emergency and non-profit services have kept up with profit-driven brands on the mobile front (see story).

The Red Cross emphasizes that this app will not replace any of its previously available services, but merely act as an additional channel for accessing them.

?The opportunity that this app presents is convenience, speed and efficiency,? Mr. Macias said. ?The 877 number is still available, the online component is still available. 

"This app just puts it all there at your fingertips."