[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                    February 8, 2008

Sponsors train to help newcomers 
learn the ropes

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

      Sponsors don't have to know the answers to all of the questions newcomers ask and can effectively serve incoming personnel if they know where to get answers and provide them with the same positive attitude a friend would.

Photo: Ann Wermer, Fort McCoy Army Community Service Relocation Readiness manager, talks about sponsorship issues during sponsorship training. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Ann Wermer, Fort McCoy Army Community Service Relocation Readiness manager, talks about sponsorship issues during sponsorship training. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Ann Wermer, Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) Relocation Readiness manager, said ACS offers sponsorship training to provide the information that prospective sponsors need.

      Both military, including active component (AC), Active Guard/Reserve (AGR), and those here in support of mobilization, as well as PCSing (permanent change of station) civilian personnel and their family members are eligible to use sponsorship services.

      "Sponsorship is a commander's program in which commanders and individual sponsors are the key to success for (smoothly) integrating Soldiers, civilians and family members into and out of their commands and community," Wermer said. "Sponsors help provide these personnel with their first impressions of their new commands."

      Information about the Army Sponsorship Program is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 600-8-8, The Total Sponsorship Program (Active Component, Active Guard/Reserve and federal civilians), the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Regulation 140-6, the USARC Retention and Transition Program (Reserve Soldiers), and the National Guard Regulation 601-1, Army National Guard Strength Maintenance Program.

Web sites can answer relocation questions

      The following Web sites can provide valuable information to those personnel who are coming  into the Fort McCoy community.

      The Web site 
http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil (a link on the Military Homefront Web  site) tells personnel about the services available at different installations, weather, directions, etc.

      The Web site 
http://www.militaryonesource.com covers a wide variety of topics, including financial, educational, deployment, informational, etc.

      It provides an Internet option to issues personnel face every day and augments the services provided on most installations.

      The Web site 
http://www.myarmylifetoo.com is the Armywide equivalent of Army Community Service (ACS) information, programs, etc.

      The Web site 
http://www.mccoymwr.com has information about the Fort McCoy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program, including services, such as ACS, recreational opportunities and events and more.

      For more information about the Fort McCoy community, call the installation ACS at (608) 388-3505 or visit 2111 South 8th Ave.

      Both Soldiers and civilians can complete a Department of the Army Form 5434, Sponsorship Program Counseling and Information Sheet, prior to leaving their current assignment. The gaining unit or activity sponsor then can contact the individual with answers to the requests made on the form.

      Among the first stops personnel coming to a new Fort McCoy organization should make are ACS and the Housing office, Wermer said.

      ACS can meet many of the needs of new arrivals as well as provide valuable support to sponsors, Wermer said. The available information includes pre-arrival welcome packets and Military Homefront booklets with information about the installation and the surrounding communities, and relocation counseling, newcomer orientations and access to a lending closet upon arrival. Wermer said ACS provides an inprocess assessment to see what types of information new arrivals still may need as well as an outprocess assessment to offer resources to individuals moving to another installation.

      New personnel also are encouraged to attend the Newcomer Orientation sessions, which are held from 8 a.m.-noon, usually on the second Wednesday of each month. These include briefings from a number of representatives from key installation organizations, Wermer said. They also include a bus tour of the post. Spouses are welcome and encouraged to attend. Childcare can be provided if it is requested at least a week in advance.

      Another service incoming personnel may want to use is the lending closet, where personnel can get household items, such as pots and pans, irons and ironing boards, vacuums, air mattresses, etc., while they wait for shipment of their household goods, she said.

      The Housing office has good information about the housing market, including lists of available real estate and rentals, she said.

      Sponsors can help fill in the remaining gaps by providing accurate and timely information to personnel arriving in the community, Wermer said.

      "We don't expect sponsors to know all the answers to questions new personnel ask," she said. "But sponsors can refer them to the personnel/organizations that do have the answers. Sponsors can help create a good first impression by having a positive attitude and helping the new personnel learn about their new organizations."

      Many times, sponsors are teamed up, according to their background/experiences, with the personnel they are sponsoring to establish a common bond and share common experiences. Wermer said this means sponsors would have equal or higher rank than the person they're sponsoring, the same gender and marital status, the same military occupational specialty or background, and familiarity with the unit and community, for example.

      "Good sponsors ease the transition and reduce culture shock," Wermer said. "If someone is coming from a larger population area or from the south, for example, it can be quite an adjustment to come to Fort McCoy. Sponsors can help prepare them for what to expect."

      When military personnel are mobilized or deployed, a rear detachment sponsor is assigned to assist in maintaining family readiness.

       Dianne Sommers, ACS Deployment Readiness Program manager, instructs a Rear Detachment Commander Course. The Rear Detachment Sponsorship program maintains effective communications between the family, the community and the command. It provides families with information about the unit or activity and about services at the local installation or community.

      Maj. Marta Williams of the 1st, 340th Training Support Battalion, 181st Infantry Brigade said she was pleased to learn about all the information that is available through the sponsorship program. Many of the Soldiers in her unit are mobilized Soldiers.

      "All of the information in the course was useful," Williams said. "Every bit of the information was a gain to the personnel in my organization."

      Several civilian attendees mentioned that the Newcomers Orientation, the information available to newcomers and the Web sites provided were very useful to help acclimate newcomers to Fort McCoy, Wermer said.

      Sponsorship training in the Fort McCoy community is periodically conducted at ACS, building 2111 (South 8th Avenue) and also upon unit request.

      Information about ACS programs, including sponsorships, is available by visiting the ACS facility, calling (608) 388-3505 or by visiting the Fort McCoy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Web site at http://www.mccoymwr.com and clicking on ACS Schoolhouse or Army Community Service.


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