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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Americans living overseas interested in volunteering with ongoing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts can do so through the American Red Cross, but they must give a minimum of three weeks and pay for their transportation to the States, according to Jason Ramlow, Misawa’s American Red Cross station manager.

Military personnel and Defense Department civilians who want to volunteer with the Red Cross or other relief efforts also need to make arrangements with their supervisor in advance to take time off from work as they would with any leave, spokesmen from bases around the Pacific are saying.

Because there are several types of leave, servicemembers should contact their commander’s support staff for more details about what options are available to them.

Several base residents have called Misawa’s Red Cross office inquiring about volunteering in the hurricane-stricken region, Ramlow said Monday.

Red Cross workers are needed, he said, but those interested in volunteering must fill out paperwork and meet certain requirements.

The paperwork may be picked up at base Red Cross stations. It includes a health questionnaire and a disaster services human resources application that asks for contact information and qualifications, such as current licenses or certifications. Ramlow said volunteers must be trained in first aid and CPR. In addition, they must complete an online training course at www.redcross.org that addresses the Red Cross’ role in disaster relief operations.

Individuals may turn in the completed documents to the Red Cross office, which will forward them to national headquarters. After that, “disaster services staff there contacts them directly,” Ramlow said.

Volunteers wishing to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, he said, must be available for a minimum of three weeks.

“They are responsible for their ticket to get from Japan to the United States,” Ramlow said. “I’m told the Red Cross handles transportation costs within the United States.”

Red Cross disaster services experts will discuss living accommodations, job and other information with accepted volunteers, Ramlow said.

Among the tasks a volunteer might be assigned are helping to run shelters and preparing and distributing food for those living in the shelters, he said. About 98 percent of the Red Cross staff are volunteers, he said, noting that the agency has sent more than 129,000 workers to the disaster zone. In coordination with the Southern Baptist Convention, the agency has served about 9.8 million hot meals and more than 7.5 million snacks to hurricane survivors.

“It’s a big thing,” Ramlow said. “This is actually the single biggest natural disaster that the American Red Cross has responded to in its entire 125-year history.”

Taking the first step

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Red Cross in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, the first step is to contact your local American Red Cross office at the numbers below (all DSN):

Guam

U.S. Naval Hospital Guam: 344-9260

Andersen Air Force Base: 366-6270

Japan

Yokota Air Base: 225-7522

Naval Air Facility Atsugi: 264-6794

Camp Zama: 263-3166

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: 253-4525

Yokosuka Naval Base: 243-7490

Misawa Air Base: 226-3016

South Korea

Yongsan Garrison: 738-3670

Camp Casey: 730-3184

Camp Humphreys: 753-7172

Kunsan Air Base: 782-4601

Osan Air Base: 784-1855

Camp Red Cloud: 732-6160

Daegu: 768-7993

Okinawa

Kadena Air Base: 634-1979

Camp Foster: 645-3800

Looking for loved ones

The International Committee of the Red Cross, in cooperation with the American Red Cross, is offering an online Family Links Registry for people seeking information about relatives who may have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. The site can be accessed through the American Red Cross home page at www.redcross.org.

“You can add information about a person you’re looking for, or you can put in information about yourself — ‘This is where I’m at.’” said Misawa Red Cross Station Manager Jason Ramlow.

So far, more than 201,000 people have registered at the site, he said. People also can call (877) 568-3317 to register.

— Stars and Stripes

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