Soldiers round up resources to be effective sponsors

By Amy L. Bugala, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Army Garrison WiesbadenMarch 6, 2017

Soldiers round up resources to be effective sponsors
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Soldiers round up resources to be effective sponsors
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Soldiers round up resources to be effective sponsors
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WIESBADEN, Germany -- First impressions count. A firm handshake and a gracious smile can set the tone for the relationship that follows, but when it comes to lending a hand to Soldiers and Families relocating overseas, it's an effective sponsorship program that is key to creating a lasting impression.

"Sponsorship is a commander's program, but it takes a team to ensure the program is effective," said Michele Begosh, a theater program manager for sponsorship with the U.S. Army Europe G1, one of 20 agencies that participated in U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Total Army Sponsorship Program Rodeo Feb. 10.

The annual rodeo, which is a unique event conducted at overseas Army installations, helps strengthen an essential part of that team - the sponsors. Soldier and civilian sponsors play a major role in the relocation process, and the support they provide for incoming personnel impacts readiness.

"When that family is ready, the students are ready, the spouse is ready; then that Soldier or civilian is going to be ready for the unit and the unit readiness will improve," Begosh said. During the event, unit sponsor coordinators and sponsors met with various services to gather the knowledge and resources needed to assist personnel during all phases of a relocation - pre-arrival, arrival and post-arrival.

Some participants were experienced sponsors seeking new information to pass along while others were looking for advice regarding individual situations.

Sgt. 1st Class Iain Gillett attended the rodeo as one of the unit sponsor coordinators for his brigade. Like many Soldiers, Gillett has gone through the PCS process numerous times, both personally and as a sponsor, and he says it's always different.

"No matter how seasoned you are, or how gung-ho you are about your PCS, there is always ambiguity going into the situation," Gillett explained. "The sponsor's job is to help remove the unknowns as much as possible."

Gillett attended the rodeo to address any gaps in information he provides to sponsors in his unit. He says it's his job to ensure unit sponsors are doing their part, have access to resources and are kept abreast of anything new or changes that could impact or delay the process.

Participants learned about new information, such as Vehicle Registration's recent change to an appointment only system, understanding requirements of relocating overseas with a pet, and the importance of hand-carrying shot records for children.

Managing expectations is a large part of a sponsor's job. The garrison's Housing Office provided key takeaways to help sponsors address the differences in overseas housing and announced that a renovated bachelor officers' quarters will be available by summer.

Representatives from both Tricare and the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic wanted to ensure sponsors ease the minds of incoming personnel regarding host-nation healthcare. "Don't be scared of the language," said Tommy Davenport, Tricare representative. "Many doctors speak English, and we do have patient liaisons."

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Evans, who was training to be a unit sponsor coordinator, attended with Gillett. Evans has seen examples of both good and bad sponsorship and knows good communication is essential for good sponsorship.

"Remaining in contact with the service member is the most valuable thing a sponsor can do," Evans said. Gillett and Evans are currently tracking more than 30 incoming personnel for their company, and after their time at the sponsorship rodeo, they're bound to make a good first impression.

For more information about sponsorship, contact theUSAG Wiesbaden sponsorship and benefits coordinator at (0611) 143-548-1615 or stop by the Welcome Center, Bldg. 1023W, Room 119.