Sponsorship makes first impression

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Sponsorship makes the critical first impression of a new base anytime military members and families move.

Those first few months of transition into a new unit can set the scene for how well or poorly the rest of a new tour will play out.

At Spangdahlem, sponsorship is regarded very seriously with a well-established program to ensure new Sabers are well taken care of.

"Our sponsorship program has been a highlight of ours for the past couple of years and we are always looking at continuous improvements," said Chanda Johnston, 52nd Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center work and life consultant. "We want to give them that positive 'I'm-coming-into-an-environment-I'm-being-taken-care-of-so-I-can-focus-on-the-mission' impression by going a little bit above and beyond to make the transition as smooth as possible with the least amount of stress."

The process begins from soon after receiving the inbound list. The A&FRC staff has recently begun sending out newsletters to inbound members to give them helpful tips on how to inprocess, resources to look into and how to connect with a sponsor.

Sponsors play a large role throughout the entire process of making the move to Germany.
Once selected, members of each unit undergo a two-part training program to become qualified sponsors. The first part is computer based training from the Military OneSource website. After completion, the A&FRC conducts face-to-face training concentrating the focus on Spangdahlem specifically. Sponsors are then equipped with a welcome CD to send to inbound members as well as a two-page checklist to keep on track.

"One thing we strongly encourage everyone to use is our MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.dod.mil website through Military OneSource," she said. "For people coming in, 95 percent of questions asked can be answered there, and we keep it updated constantly. Between MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and the newcomers sections on the Spangdahlem home page, newcomers are already well equipped with a wealth of information."

The online resources take some of the pressure off the sponsors who have been appointed, as they may not know all of the answers every question asked by an inbound person.

Within the first week of arrival, new Sabers must attend the base newcomers' briefing. This briefing allows project managers from across the base to reach out to individuals who may be in need of their assistance.

At the briefing, new comers are also asked to fill out a sponsorship feedback survey. With this information, the A&FRC is able to reward sponsors who really worked hard to welcome new team members by sending a certificate of recognition to their unit.

"We have a much higher level of individual attention and really targeted approach for our newcomers," she said. "By the time they leave the briefing, they really feel comfortable and are armed with information and a better idea of the base itself.

"Relocation can be stressful, but it can be a lot of fun," Johnston continued. "It's so rewarding knowing how much of a difference we can make, and we hope make it a positive experience and allow them to enjoy Germany as much as we do, because this is a fabulous assignment."

For more information on becoming a sponsor or the sponsorship program, call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at DSN 452-6422 or 06565-61-6422.

To view more resources, visit http://www.spangdahlem.af.mil/library/newcomerandfamilyinfo/index.asp, http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/, and http://www.militaryonesource.mil/.