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Red Cross Supporting Military Families During Voluntary Departures from Japan

The American Red Cross is helping support military dependents in Japan as they participate in a voluntary departure issued by the Department of Defense (DoD) in response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country.

Red Cross workers are supporting the military families on two fronts, as they leave Japan and as they arrive stateside. The Red Cross is working in close coordination with the DoD to assess and help meet the needs of those departing Japan.

In Japan, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) workers are assisting family members as they prepare to leave the country, helping process their ticketing, and directing them from the staging area to terminals and aircrafts. Red Cross workers are also providing snacks and drinks for the dependents. At Yokota Air Base, the Red Cross is providing canteen services for inbound military rescue and relief personnel.

As the the families arrive stateside, Red Cross mental health professionals are on site to offer emotional support. The Red Cross is also providing canteen services at the airports, assistance with contacting family members, and handing out food, snacks and toiletries. Red Cross chapters in Washington state and Colorado are also supporting military families.

Computers are available at the military installations in Japan as well as at the arrival points in the U.S. to help military families register on the Red Cross “Safe and Well” web site to let loved ones know of their well-being.

At Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, Red Cross Station Manager Michael Patton reports most essential services have been restored but power is being used sparingly and purchases of food and fuel are limited. “Morale here is good and many continue to volunteer to go off the base and help clean up,” Patton said. “The volunteers have been phenomenal.”

The Red Cross has 19 SAF staff on eight military installations in Japan and 15 staff at seven stations in Korea who provide year-round support to U.S. service members and their families.

Japanese Red Cross still sheltering hundreds of thousands of evacuees

Meanwhile, the Japanese Red Cross Society continues to come to the aid of hundreds of thousands of people in Japan, including those whose homes and communities were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami and others who have been displaced by the evolving nuclear emergency.

About 365,000 people are staying in as many as 2,300 shelters operated by the Japanese government and supported by the Japanese Red Cross, which has distributed 125,000 blankets and 20,700 emergency kits to evacuees.

Each day, approximately 10,000 people are able to leave the evacuation centers and return to their homes as electricity is restored. Others who had to leave homes close to the damaged nuclear power plants, however, do not know how long they will remain in the public shelters.

The Japanese Red Cross has also deployed nearly 250 medical teams to date with 40 of these teams currently working in hospitals, mobile clinics and other health facilities to provide a range of health care services and comfort traumatized survivors.

The American Red Cross has made an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society to assist in its ongoing relief efforts and is funding about half of the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) logistical operation in Japan. WFP is supporting the Government of Japan’s delivery of relief items to people affected by the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency by deploying personnel with logistical expertise, and mobile warehouses to store relief items.

The American Red Cross has not been asked at this time to send any material items to Japan. Our main partner - the Japanese Red Cross - had sufficient supplies available throughout the country before the earthquake and tsunami and has been distributing them to the survivors since the disaster began on March 11. As pledges are fulfilled and additional donations received, it will, however, make additional financial contributions to help the people affected by the earthquake, tsunami and evolving nuclear emergency.

Those who want to help can go to and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Gifts to the American Red Cross will support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami throughout the Pacific.