Commanding Officer: LtCol Mark E. Woodard
Family Readiness Officer: Kevin Lathrop
DSN: 636-7666
Cell: 080-2703-9029

USA: 011-81-98-911-5111 (dial tone) 736-7666

Family Team Building Okinawa
Family Team Building Hawaii
Family Team Building Iwakuni
Military OneSource

Dear Inbound Dragon Family:

Congratulations on your assignment to VMM-265! Our squadron has a proud and storied tradition within the Marine Corps field of aviation. The first CH-46 "Phrogs" entered service in the USMC in this squadron more than sixty years ago, and now we have the honor of having the very first MV-22 Ospreys to serve operationally in the Far East! Dragons do it first, and better, than anyone else!

My name is Kevin Lathrop, and I am your Family Readiness Officer. My primary objective is to make our Commanding Officer's vision of the UPFRP (Unit/Personal & Family Readiness Program) a reality. The program is based on four tenets or principles: Official Communication, Information & Referral, Readiness & Deployment Support, and Volunteer Management. Please contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have about your upcoming assignment here with VMM-265.

**Marines, help me help your spouse! A significant number of spouses coming to this squadron have commented that they would have liked to have been in the "email loop" concerning happenings here at the squadron and on-island, prior to their arrival date. Please reply to this message with your spouse's email and I will gladly add them to the distro list. It can only help in making your family's transition to Okinawa more of a success.

I would like to briefly list some items that are common concerns for families coming to Okinawa, and links to their respective agencies on island.

**Important Note: It is imperative that you receive your Area Clearance from your parent command ASAP after receiving orders to VMM-265! If you are experiencing problems with obtaining this document, please contact me and I will put you in touch with someone that can expedite the process. The Area Clearance is one of the most important documents for families PCSing to Okinawa.

Welcome to Okinawa
Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler

Sponsor: You should have a sponsor assigned to you. They are tasked with assisting you in making arrangements for your arrival on Okinawa. If you have not been assigned a sponsor, notify me immediately. Or, if you think that your sponsor is not adequately meeting your individual needs, let me know. We want your transition to VMM-265 to be as seamless and painless as possible.

Housing application

Spouses: Education and Employment:

There are a multitude of educational opportunities on Okinawa, ranging from technical certifications, associate degree programs, to graduate level programs. Tuition rates are fair, classes are smaller than most universities, and courses are usually compressed or accelerated to allow for rapid completion. Both in-class and online options are available in most cases. Information on post-secondary education options, scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

Educational options web-based tool(Need to Update)
scholarship and financial aid tool(Need to Update)
MCCS Education Office

There are also plenty of employment prospects for dependents. The main employers are: Marine Corps Base (CHRO or GS), Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), AAFES, and there is also a litany of independent entrepreneurs and vendors.

MCCS jobs
Department of the Navy Civilian Human Resources
Federal job listings
18 FSS NAF Human Resources

Children: education and activities:

Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) Okinawa provides an excellent learning environment for your young pupil. Most educators are veteran teachers with graduate degrees and multiple fields of certification. Classes are smaller compared to the stateside average. At some point, every student is "the new kid," allowing for a sense of camaraderie and commonality. Problems like drugs and violence, which can be destructive distractions for youths, are minimal or non-existent compared to CONUS locations. Although the schools are smaller, there are many extra-curricular activities to participate in.

Soccer moms rejoice! If the school doesn't sponsor it, likely there is a recreational league or activity that your child may participate in. Every summer, college students are brought from the states to staff summer camps at the various Marine Corps bases.

Starting point for school information
School Liaison Officer (Valuable local office dedicated to resolving your education transition to Okinawa)
MCCS Teen Centers
MCCS Youth Centers
MCCS Youth Sports
MCCS Skate Parks

Moving to Okinawa:

Pets: It is possible to bring your pets with you, but be aware that the procedure is more involved than in the past, and may be costly. The biggest hurdle is the 180 day rabies quarantine requirement. There is a two pet limit to most base housing, and there are many pet-friendly towers located on Camps Courtney, Foster, and Kinser. If you decide to add a pet to your family while stationed here, please do so ONLY if you have the intention of taking that pet with you when you leave. There are too many abandoned pets. **The current USMC restriction on Pitbull, Rottweiler, and wolf-hybrid breeds is in effect on all MCBJ housing areas. Please see the links for more information.

Animal Quarantine Service Japan
Kadena AB Traveling with Pets
Importing pets guidelines
US Army Japan District Veterinary
Okinawa American Animal Rescue Society

Vehicles: Due to restrictions, rarely do personnel bring vehicles to Okinawa. Quality, dependable, used vehicles are plentiful throughout Okinawa and Japan. In fact, it is rare even for locals to purchase new cars. Average cost for a used car or van is usually around $2000 - $4000. Generally, if you spend more, you get more. There are some expenses that you will have to budget for though.

JCI: Japanese Compulsory Inspection. Every vehicle goes through a rigorous safety inspection every two years (every year for some large trucks). Average cost is between $600 - $1000. Cars bought at local dealerships are generally sold with a new inspection, cars purchased from SOFA personnel will vary. Be aware of when it expires.

Annual road tax: Every May, a fee must be paid to the Japanese gov't. The cost is relative to the size of the vehicle, ranging from approximately $30 - $300.

Timing belt: The majority of vehicles have timing belts, which are scheduled to be replaced every 100,000 kms. The average cost for this maintenance is from $600 - $900. Before buying the vehicle, find out when it is due to be replaced. Usually, if the job has been done, there will be a sticker located somewhere on the timing belt cover stating the odometer reading when it was performed. If this belt breaks, 99% of the time it kills the engine, requiring complete replacement, which can run upwards of $1500.

Other: Previous owner maintenance. Prior to purchase, do a visual inspection of the engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. Be leery of: if the oil is very low, and/or caked onto the dipstick; if the coolant looks like mud, rusty, and if there is evidence of coolant stain in the engine bay from an overheat issue; the transmission fluid should have a reddish tint, and feel slippery to the touch. If it resembles old oil, it may indicate a problem. If any of these issues arise, it may be a lemon in the near future. **repairs on foreign brands (Ford, Chevy, BMW, etc) in Japan WILL be expensive.

Additional Relocation Information: Take a moment to thoroughly review the permanent change of station orders to ensure awareness and understanding of all applicable entitlements to include current household goods weight restrictions and allowances, military pay and allowances, local housing policies, Government of Japan pet importation regulations, and additional information as may be necessary on a case-by-case basis.

Other various:

An online, local yard sale. Check it out, it's very useful.
Okinawa Hai, Everything you want to know about the island is here.
Total Okinawa, Another site like okinawahai above
Okinawa Living the magazine put out by MCCS
A series of guides for those new to the island…a MUST read!

Island Newspapers:

Japan Update
The Okinawa Times
The Pacific Stars and Stripes

Administrative Websites:

MCB Butler
United States Marine Corps units
USNH Okinawa
Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa
Okinawa Traffic Management Office
Kadena Air Base

Kevin Lathrop
Family Readiness Officer
calling from the USA
office: 011-81-611-736-7666
cell: 011-81-802-703-9029