KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY – Soldiers, civilians, and family members making a move to U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz or the Baumholder Military Community can use their phones, tablets, and desktops to get the data and information they need for a smooth move.
The garrison's public affairs team publishes permanent-change-of-station move information, newcomer information, and a gamut of other facts on the garrison's website and its social media channels. Updated daily, the digital information storefronts include a wealth of stories, links, and information helpful to solving problems and making the transition more comfortable.
The garrison is divided into 31 geographically separated sites. Most of those are in the Kaiserslautern area, while others are in Baumholder, Mannheim, and Germersheim, Germany. Two others reside in Bulgaria and Romania. Further, the garrison shares many facilities with the U.S. Air Force, including housing and child care centers. Still, it is not a "joint" community, so the rules of engagement can vary from one location to another.
Garrison Chief of Command Information Keith Pannell said he and the rest of the public affairs team – working with the other 12 directorates within the garrison – endeavor to make available the data and information vital for PCSers.
"For some, even those who have been here before, moving here can be a Rubik's Cube, so we try to make as much information available as we can through our website and social media channels to help," Pannell said. "We also try to make it as easy to access as possible."
Pannell estimates the garrison website sees about 30,000 visitors each month. The garrison's two Facebook pages (USAG Rheinland-Pfalz, as well as, the Baumholder Military Community) include more than 40,000 followers and are updated almost every workday.
The garrison's website includes a robust newcomers interface with separate entry points for Kaiserslautern and Baumholder. PCS information is linked at the top right of the front page and leads to more than 120 links with vital info such as lodging, shipped vehicle details, child care, information on pets, the Exceptional Family Member Program, host nation COVID updates and more.
"These links go right to the source," Pannell said. "We work to make sure they are up to date and lead folks to the right sources."
Families can find more in-depth reporting about the PCS season on the garrison's front page in stories and videos. The garrison recently produced a series of 15-second "hints and tips" to help families with their PCS moves. Social media users have viewed the videos more than 20,000 times.
Pannell said the real win for PCSers, however, is downloading and using the Digital Garrison app. The app, available for phones and tablets, brings together dozens of garrison resources in a highly configurable way. It also provides access to the new Army Maintenance Application for housing and links to great sales and news from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
"Digital Garrison is a must-have alongside other apps," Pannell said. "We're funneling more and more information to the app to bring a much more robust mobile experience, and that's only going to grow. During a PCS is the time to have that app right on the front page alongside Facebook, Instagram and Amazon."
As the PCS "Summer Surge" rolls on, Pannell said the garrison would continue to produce status updates, stories, and information that helps PCSers make a smooth move.
"People first. That's what counts. And when PCSing families are armed with the best, latest, and most up-to-date information, we can make a difference in whether or not their stay in Germany is a good one or a great one," Pannell said.