CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan staff held the first in-person Community Information Exchange in three years here Friday as pandemic conditions continue to improve.
Installation officials provided updates on a range of community services during the quarterly exchange and also announced the return of open-post events, starting with an Independence Day celebration on July 2.
Before the pandemic, the Fourth of July event typically had about 10,000 to 12,000 visitors attend.
This year’s event, which will run from 3 to 9 p.m. at Yano Sports Field, will include live entertainment, inflatable games, military displays, and American and Japanese food vendors before ending with a 20-minute fireworks show.
"It's been awhile since we've been able to do this," said Maj. Gen. JB Vowell, commander of U.S. Army Japan. "We're getting back to some of the normal things we need to do as human beings, which is gathering together face-to-face."
On Aug. 6, Camp Zama also plans to have its Bon Odori Festival, an event that honors the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. Japan Ground Self-Defense Force partners will co-host the celebration, which is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the post.
“That’s a great cultural event that we’re going to have,” said Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson, commander of USAG Japan. “So let’s get excited, because it’s going to happen.”
In Friday’s exchange, more than 15 presenters spoke about updates in their organization to around 100 community members, who also received a free dinner buffet and a chance to win gift cards.
During her briefing, Capt. Ashley LeBaube, who represented U.S. Army Medical Department Activity–Japan, highlighted news from the BG Sams U.S. Army Health Clinic.
She mentioned free COVID-19 testing was still available for official and non-official travel at the rear of the clinic on weekdays from 8 to 10 a.m., followed by quarantine testing from 10 to 11 a.m. Symptomatic testing is currently by appointment only by calling DSN 263-4175 or 046-407-4175.
Testing for those on restriction of movement is now conducted at the unit level, she added. At-home tests are also offered to TRICARE beneficiaries, who can have two per person each month and can pick them up during testing hours in the rear of the clinic.
The clinic also now accepts hand-written prescriptions from U.S. and Japan providers. The prescriptions should be written in English and contain complete patient, prescriber and medication information, she said.
LeBaube encouraged patients to download the TRICARE MyCare Overseas app, which can help them track appointments and referrals as well as provide access to translation services.
“Being in a foreign country is sometimes stressful in dealing with health care and through the different health care systems,” she said. “So having the app available is really awesome.”
Diane Thompson, who spoke on behalf of the Army Wellness Center, said the center offers six core programs to improve sleep, exercise, nutrition and stress management.
“The purpose of our existence is to keep our warriors fit to fight,” she said. “In doing so, our goal is to combat the major risk factors to overuse injury.”
Risk factors include a high or low body mass index, poor sleep habits and nutrition, sedentary behavior and smoking, she said.
The center, located at Bldg. 379, has assessments to measure a person’s success as they work toward their goal. The most popular assessment, she said, is the Bod Pod system, a body composition test that determines the ratio of body fat to lean mass.
The services are open to all active-duty Soldiers, retirees, their adult dependents and Department of the Army civilians.
Thompson also said that unit leaders can reach out to the center to organize classes or assessments to boost the readiness of their Soldiers.
Totolua Ripley, store director of the commissaries here and at Sagamihara Family Housing Area, reminded community members to try out the CLICK2GO online ordering site.
Shoppers can sign up for the curbside pickup service by creating an account at Commissaries.com. Ripley said shoppers who complete eight orders of $25 or more with the service during this month and July will receive a $25 gift card.
“That’s an incentive to use the CLICK2GO service,” he said. “We appreciate if you guys can do that, because it will help us out quite a bit.”
At the end of the event, Tomlinson asked the audience to provide their input ahead of the next information exchange, slated to take place in early fall.
“We need your feedback,” the colonel said. “So let us know what we missed, how we can do better, what was good. We’re already planning our next event and looking forward to making it better for you.”