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Government civilians offered way to help Katrina survivors

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many Americans want to do whatever they can to help those directly affected, and now government civilians have another way to help in this effort.

Government civilian employees may now volunteer to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hurricane Katrina efforts through the Federal Employee Volunteer Program.

"Air Force civilians are already providing outstanding assistance to those in need simply by doing their jobs," said Mr. Greg Den Herder, executive director of the Air Force Personnel Center here. "This program offers those people, whom supervisors can release, another way to serve in this effort to overcome the effects of Hurricane Katrina."

Potential volunteers must receive permission from their chain of command to participate. Those who volunteer will likely face difficult conditions under which they will work while being exposed to potential dangers to health and well-being. Volunteers should also expect to be deployed a minimum of 30 days to locations affected by Hurricane Katrina as determined by FEMA.

Along with this awareness, supervisors must weigh the volunteer opportunity against costs to the unit. Volunteers' units will continue to pay salary and benefit costs, including workers compensation costs if volunteer employees are injured. FEMA expects to pay additional travel, overtime and training costs, but owning organizations must be prepared to cover those costs until reimbursement is made.

Interested civilian employees with their supervisors' permission should contact their base civilian personnel flights for more information.