Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Red Cross Website Links Japan-based Troops to Home

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – In the wake of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami, Red Cross officials are encouraging U.S. service members and families posted there to register with an online resource intended to keep family and friends back home informed of their welfare.

Military members and their families overseas can relay their status and pass on messages to loved ones through the American Red Cross-sponsored “Safe and Well” website at

“It’s a great online tool,” Deanna Swanier, senior director of service delivery for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces, told American Forces Press Service yesterday. “Family members back here can visit the website and look up loved ones to see if they’re safe.”

Hours after the earthquake and tsunami struck March 11, officials confirmed U.S. military personnel and their families were accounted for. Still, family and friends back home were seeking information.

One woman turned to Misawa Air Base’s Facebook page for information that day. Misawa is about 400 miles north of Tokyo.

“Not sure if anyone can find out anything,” she wrote, “but my brother is on base and we’re trying to figure out if everything is OK over there. Does anyone know?”

To register for Safe and Well, people enter their name, contact information and then choose from a list of standard messages –- “I am safe and well,” “Family and I are safe and well,” or “Currently at shelter” –- or they can type a customized message.

While many service members may turn to e-mail or, if available, a phone call to contact immediate family members after a disaster, Swanier encouraged them to also register on Safe and Well so extended family members and friends can find out about their well-being.

“It offers another avenue of communication,” she noted.

Family and friends back home can access the messages by entering the service member’s pre-disaster phone number or complete home address. They can’t, however, register themselves on the site. The site is intended to facilitate communication from inside the disaster-affected areas to families outside, Red Cross officials explained....

Much more here.

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