The American Red Cross in Utah has doubled its military support in the past month, Lois Barker, executive director for Salt Lake City, said Friday.

The Red Cross' emergency communications service is the only around-the-world network that allows military men and women to stay in touch with families about births, deaths and serious illness.Red Cross personnel are helping Utah families link up with the computerized system at Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington. Family members may send messages 24 hours a day from local chapters.

Barker said the messages for personnel in the Persian Gulf are processed more quickly if the first and last name, branch of service, rank, military address and social security number can be provided.

An operating condition imposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff prohibits the transmittal of non-emergency messages between troops and their families.

In addition to the Red Cross communications system, emergency interest-free loans and grants for military families may be available. Red Cross also provides access to information on everything from mail delivery to helping children cope with separation from parents.