|By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
Installation Management Command
I have moved many times in my
career, within the United States and overseas. I have deployed several
times, leaving my wife to pull double duty at home. I know the good, the
bad and the ugly of moving firsthand from my Family’s experience and the
stories shared by other Soldiers, Civilians and Family members. Every
move brings new opportunities but also challenges and stress that can
have a negative impact on work and home life.
I also know from personal experience that sponsors can be the
determining factor between a good or bad move. An excellent sponsor
plays a key role in making a positive first impression and helping the
new person and Family integrate into the unit, workplace and community.
During the past several years the Army has been experiencing a high
volume of transition due to Army Force Generation, modularity, Grow the
Army, Base Realignment and Closure and troop mobilization. Now more than
ever we need effective sponsorship to mitigate the stress of transition;
however, Soldiers, Civilians and Families continue to express
frustration with the Army’s Sponsorship Program.
Sometimes our personnel and Family members have an exceptional sponsor —
someone who truly makes them feel welcome and gets them off to an
excellent start — but that is not always the case. There may be sponsors
who are not well-equipped or motivated to provide the needed assistance
or, even worse, no sponsorship at all. These experiences make
sponsorship a pressing Army Family Action Plan issue. I am taking this
opportunity to improve on our Total Army Sponsorship Program (TASP) to
enhance the readiness of our Soldiers and Civilians, and deliver on our
promise to take care of Families.
The Army’s Sponsorship Program, as prescribed in Army Regulation
600-8-8, The Total Army Sponsorship Program, requires every first-term
Soldier to have a sponsor. The sponsor acts as a big brother or sister
and helps the Soldier learn Army standards and develop a sense of
responsibility and teamwork.
After that initial assignment, TASP offers sponsors for every Soldier,
private through colonel, and likewise for every Civilian in grades up to
GS-15. A vital part of the Sponsorship Program that is often forgotten
or overlooked is the rear detachment support provided to Family members
of deployed Soldiers and Civilians.
So, we have in our regulations a Sponsorship Program that covers all
members of our community. I want to make sure that what is outlined on
paper also is happening in our communities. Soldiers, Civilians and
Family members will have a sponsor to provide information and support
before, during and after transitions, mobilizations and deployments.
We must make sure sponsors are well-equipped for their important role.
Sponsors must understand their role and have the necessary information
and resources to fulfill it. Even more so, sponsors must be willing to
reach out and make human contact, especially with new Soldiers,
first-time Civilian employees, and Family members who are unfamiliar
with the Army way of life.
Above all, I want to ensure that commanders are invested in the success
of the Sponsorship Program within their community. TASP is a commander’s
program. Its success is contingent upon the commander’s involvement and
support. It is leadership’s responsibility to send the message that
sponsorship is something important to do and to do it right. At the most
basic level, that means having an adequate pool of sponsors to meet the
needs of the community and supporting those sponsors with reasonable
time and resources to do a good job.
I have asked Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola (Installation Management
Command) to lead a working group to review sponsorship from a holistic
perspective and to update the program to meet the needs of Soldiers in
Two important aspects of the Sponsorship Program under examination are
integration and tracking. We must have a means to collect, transmit and
follow up on their needs and issues. We do not want Soldiers carrying
unresolved issues from assignment to assignment. We do not want Families
to fail to connect or to become disconnected from their community,
especially if their Soldier is deployed. We are looking at the
feasibility of using current systems to integrate and track TASP
processes Armywide, among other possible improvements. I anticipate that
new recommendations, guidance and requirements will be forthcoming as a
result of our review.
We are approaching summer, the traditional moving season for the
military. Most of us in an Army environment, Soldiers, Civilians and
Family members alike, know what it is like to relocate. We know what a
difference it makes to have a helping hand along the way.
Leaders, your direct experience alone, whether good or bad, should be
enough incentive to make the Sponsorship Program in your sphere of
influence as effective as possible.
With a successful sponsorship program, we can treat every one of these
moves as an opportunity to show that we will do right by Soldiers,
Civilians and Families. The time and effort invested up front will pay
big dividends in the satisfaction, commitment, and increased cohesion
and mission readiness of Army units. All Soldiers, Civilians and Family
members must be provided with quality programs and safe communities that
meet their needs while enabling them to thrive and maintain resiliency.
We will keep our promise.
Support and Defend.