As the global population becomes increasingly mobile, many families are finding their members more scattered than ever before. While such modern technology as video conferencing can bring people together from the far reaches of the planet, circumstances such as war and persecution can necessitate traveling great distances from home, separating immediate family members and relatives. Some organizations have established funding to help reunite families who otherwise might be forced to live apart.
Travel Assistance Programs for Military Personnel
The Casualty Travel Assistance Program offers financial aid to reunite military personnel with their families in emergency situations. Administered by the American Red Cross in collaboration with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, the Army Emergency Relief and the Air Force Aid Society, CTAP grants travel funding when a military member or military family member dies or is wounded. In 2008, the Red Cross and these military aid programs allocated nearly six million dollars to approximately 5,000 service personnel and their families for reunions as well as other essential aid. CTAP grants can be used for airfare, accommodations, and other travel essentials.
Reunion Funding for Expatriates
The London-based Prisoners of Conscience organization has family reunion grants available for individuals expatriated from the UK due to persecution for their conscience-guided ethics. Those applying for funding to visit UK-based family must have legal authority to enter the UK and may be asked to provide proof of past persecution that led to expatriation. Prisoners of Conscience is a small, private organization with limited reunion grants available.
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Federal Funding for Family Reunions
Congressman Honda of California has reintroduced legislation called the Reuniting Families Act that, upon passage by federal lawmakers, makes funding available to reunite non-American spouses and children with permanent U.S. residents, as well as admitting non-U.S. residents to the country to be with resident relatives in emergency situations. The bill dates to 2008, but was reintroduced in May of 2011.
Private Foundation Grants for Reuniting Families
The UK-based Refugee Welcome Trust provides grants to enable the families of refugees to join them in the UK. A donations-only family reunion fund, Refugee Welcome Trust requires applicants to have legal authorization to enter the country. Many U.S. Catholic Charities branch offices offer refugee family reunification assistance, including travel funds as well as help with necessary paperwork. Applicants eligible for refugee status are those people who have sought safety in the U.S. due to racial, religious, or social persecution in their own countries.
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