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 November 12, 2010

Armywide News

Army now offering sponsorship training online

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Defense Department has launched an online sponsor training and resource tool intended to boost the quality of the decades-old sponsor program and better assist relocating servicemembers and their Families, a defense official said.

McCoy offers sponsorship training sessions

Sponsorship training for authorized members of the Fort McCoy community will be held Feb. 8, May 3, Aug. 9 and Nov. 8 in 2011, said Ann Wermer. The sponsorship program is open to military and federal civilian personnel who are undergoing a permanent change of station move.
 
Wermer, Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) Relocation Readiness manager, said the training is held from 10-11 a.m. at ACS, 2111 South 8th Ave.

Sponsorship is a commander’s program that assists Soldiers, civilian employees and Families during the reassignment process; assists Families geographically separated from the sponsor during deployment; and improves unit or organizational cohesion and readiness.

Topics presented during the training include regulations and forms, program entitlements, types of sponsorship, sponsor responsibilities, commander responsibilities, and e-Sponsorship.

For more information or to register, contact ACS at 608-388-3505. Registration is requested no later than one week prior to training.

Units may schedule unit sponsorship training by completing the Training Request Form six weeks in advance.

Forms are available online at the website http://www.mccoymwr.com under Soldier/Family Programs, Army Community Service, ACS Links.

The sponsor program connects incoming servicemembers with a trained sponsor, typically a servicemember of similar rank and job position, at the gaining installation.

Sponsors operate as the unit’s “welcome wagon,” assisting Families with everything from lodging and schools to spouse employment opportunities and housing, explained Barbara Thompson, director of the Pentagon’s office of Family policy/children and youth.

Previously, the sponsor program was “hit or miss” across the services, Thompson noted. The mandatory program is run, not at the service or base level, but the unit level, she said, and as a result, the quality of training and program management varied significantly.

Now, through the e-Sponsorship Application and Training site, or e-SAT, leaders can ensure all sponsors are uniformly trained and equipped to provide top-notch assistance to Families, she said.

The site offers sponsors a one-stop-shop resource for information, including training, links to relocation resources and an e-mail function designed to facilitate communication between sponsors and incoming Families.

“It’s a fact of life that over a military lifecycle, a Family will move every two to three years,” Thompson said. “That’s a lot of upheaval. Our Families need support to make sure each move goes smoothly.”

A spouse, for instance, who is looking for an area dry cleaner or handyman, can go online and ask the sponsor for recommendations.

“It’s always helpful to be connected to someone who knows the area,” Thompson said.

The sponsor, she said, also can create a quick connection between the Family and their relocation manager, who supports the relocation process and adds another layer of support.

To ensure the program runs smoothly, the application allows unit leaders to review the information flow between sponsor and newcomer, and to intervene if necessary, Thompson said.

“We tried to produce something that will be very helpful to our Families and sponsors,” she said. “Before, there may have been training, but we didn’t know what that training included or whether it was effective. Now, there’s a learning objective and the information that sponsors need to better support the individual needs of Families.”

Families who haven’t been assigned a sponsor can request one online by visiting Military Installations at http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil or Plan My Move at http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/moving.
The application is part of a series of new online resources the department has created to improve the relocation experiences of servicemembers and their Families, Thompson said.

Next up, department officials are looking at launching a similar application for military children on the move, she added.

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