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Yokota dependents out-process for first voluntary authorized departures
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- A Senior Airman helps a military spouse complete her Form 178 here, at the Taiyo Community Center, March 19. Military dependants participated in the first wave of voluntary authorized departures. These precautionary measures are intended to help ensure the safety of U.S. citizens during this dynamic time, as well as to assist and expedite Japanese recovery efforts by reducing the demand for food, water, fuel and electricity during this national emergency in Japan. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
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Yokota begins voluntary authorized departures

Posted 3/19/2011   Updated 3/19/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by 2nd Lt. Christopher Love
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/19/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Spouses, children, cats and dogs gathered here at the Taiyo Community Center for out-processing, as part of the first wave of voluntary authorized departures, March 19.

Their departure serves as a precautionary measure to help ensure the safety of U.S. citizens during this dynamic time and will also assist and expedite Japanese recovery efforts by reducing the demand for food, water, fuel and electricity during this national emergency in Japan.

Whether military, government employed or civilian, members from across Yokota and beyond came together in a coordinated effort to ensure that those who are departing out-process safely and properly.

For nearly everyone involved, this latest response to the ongoing crisis in Japan comes amid long hours and little rest.

"Everyone is tired, but you wouldn't know it," said Nancy Feather, a Red Cross volunteer at the Taiyo. "People have been finishing their 12-hour shifts and pretending to go to sleep, only to come over here and help."

Departing members were led through a series of stations, each one aimed at helping them complete a different aspect of their departure.

After first signing in, members underwent a security and a baggage check, much like one does when processing through an airport. After that, they received a briefing about their important documents, especially the Form 178, which all members must complete before departing.

As one departing spouse, Geoff Modlin, remarked, "The process was actually really easy, as long as you had your paperwork. If you had your Form 178 filled out completely, that sped things up."

After the briefing, members had a chance to address issues related to U.S. Customs. This proved especially helpful for parents whose children were born in Japan and had not yet traveled to the U.S.

"My son was born here," Modlin said, "so he didn't have an incoming stamp on passport. But it was really easy; they got all that taken care of."

Members then received a bracelet, into which is encoded information that identifies them and helps military personnel ensure for the full accountability of those entrusted to their care. Pets received this bracelet, too.

Finally, members visited the Military and Civilian Personnel Station, where attendants processed their orders for them.

When all of this was done, members had the option of visiting any of a number of further stations, each one aimed at providing for yet another set of needs. These stations consisted of representatives from: the chaplaincy, legal office, finance, civil engineering (to help with housing), the Air Force Aid Society, the American Red Cross, the American Embassy, and an information station. Members also had access to a small snack bar.

Capt. Larry Chupp, a physician's assistant at the Yokota hospital and the team chief for the medical side of the voluntary departure, commented on the emotional state of the departing members he encountered.

"From what I've seen so far, everything is very orderly. People seem very upbeat, very happy with the services being provided. I think everything is going well so far."

One departing spouse, Antoinette Carrillo, encouraged future departing members to approach the whole process with calm.

"Be patient--please be patient. No one has all the answers to everything. The staff is trying their best to get everything settled. It's going really well right now, and they're doing everything they can to make sure things go quickly."

Modlin, traveling with his two small children, gave this advice: "Whether you plan on going or don't plan on going, get a bag ready. It doesn't matter what your decision is, because until six o'clock this morning I wasn't planning on going either."

Yokota will continue to assist U.S. service members' families so that anyone who would like to voluntarily depart the main island of Japan, is able to.  Flight schedules will be announced through Unit Voluntary Authorized Departure Representatives. 



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