Sponsors provide first impression to newcomers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kali L. Gradishar
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
It can be very hectic in-processing and starting a new job simultaneously. But Airmen and their families can experience a smoother transition with the Sponsor Program and new Spouses Sponsor Program run by the Airman & Family Readiness Center here.

The program has been ongoing for many years now, but recently there have been a number of changes to guarantee a warm welcome into the Saber community.

"This is a very well-established program since it's been running for so long, but it used to be a hit-or-miss program because there was no way to measure success or failures," said Beverly Pineiro, A&FRC supervisory community readiness consultant. "Now the program is measured through evaluation checklists completed by incoming Airmen. We want to make sure people are getting the best sponsorship."

The checklist provided to incoming Airmen includes remarks such as whether or not the sponsor made contact prior to arrival, answered questions to the best of his or her ability or provided resources to answer the question, provided base-level support, or provided transportation from the airport.

"According to the feedback, the program is doing overwhelmingly well, and it really helps when unit leadership emphasizes the importance of the program and allows sponsors to take care of their incoming Airmen and families," Ms. Pineiro noted.

I think it's a real priority for the wing to put the best foot forward to incoming personnel and make a good first impression. It all ties back into the mission: If we can provide a better, quicker ease into the base, community and country, people are better-equipped to support the wing's missions," she added.

But it's not just a stressful time for the Airmen making a permanent-change-of-station move into a new environment. The families are affected, as well. While the servicemember is whirled into performing mission priorities, military in-processing and other tasks assigned to them, sometimes the family is left high and dry trying to figure things out on their own.

Now, spouses don't have to go it alone.

"There's a new program Saber spouses are volunteering for called the Spouse Sponsor Program. The spouse sponsors know what it's like in a new place, attempting to find essentials or a way to get around on their own," Ms. Pineiro said. "There are currently 10 to 15 volunteers in this program dedicated to providing incoming spouses the information they need to get acquainted with area."

The pair of programs makes for an easier transition into a new military community and overseas lifestyle.

"We want Airmen and their families to have a positive first impression so they can have a positive time here," Ms. Pineiro said.