KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Being organized, getting the right information and knowing what to expect are critical factors when it comes to moving overseas successfully.

That's why the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Army Community Service's Relocation Readiness Office provides sponsorship training classes to make moving to Germany a positive experience.

Successful moves begin with good sponsors, said Diane Dixon, Relocation Readiness Program manager.

"Knowledgeable sponsors are important for inbound personnel and their families because sometimes their action or inaction will set the tone for the rest of their tour," Dixon said. "Although sponsors can accomplish training online, they may have questions about the information so we offer face-to-face sponsorship training classes to inform them of their responsibilities before their newcomers arrive."

Sponsorship Training Instructor Otis Toussaint knows from his military experience how important it is to receive good information before moving.

"Sponsors play a huge role for newcomers, because they are at the mercy of the information they receive prior to arriving in country," said Toussaint, a former Army medical operations officer. "If newcomers are focused on getting settled in, they can't give 100 percent to the mission -- so their minds may not be in the fight."

Toussaint's mission is to gear up sponsors (military and civilian employees of any service) with information to help make inbound personnel and their families' transition to Germany a positive one.

Prior planning is important to newcomers' arrival. Toussaint advises sponsors to:
• Initiate contact with inbound personnel within 72 hours of receiving their sponsorship information,
• Arrange temporary lodging (military or civilian) and be sure to take into account all family members (including pets),
• Provide U.S. Army Europe driver's license information (can be accomplished online),
• Arrange for transportation, and let newcomers know of current vehicle and booster seat requirements,
• Send an ACS welcome package, and
• Set up their mailbox with newcomers' orders.

Toussaint had several moves during his military career, but didn't always have helpful sponsors.

"I didn't have a good sponsor at my first duty station," Toussaint said, remembering his first relocation experience in the Army. "That's my motivation to take care of folks here."

To schedule sponsorship training for an individual or a group, call DSN 541-9000 (Kaiserslautern) or 531-2850 (Baumholder).