KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Free city trips and vouchers for treks around Germany are part of a new U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz newcomer’s incentives program.
The IMCOM Be Strong program awarded the garrison’s Army Community Service and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation a $50,000 grant to acclimate new Soldiers and family members to German culture.
“We want to make the transition to Germany easier for our new community members,” said Heather Robinson, chief of ACS. “Many times people are intimidated by the language and cultural differences. This incentive program is a way for us to quickly introduce the population to Germany with guides who understand both country’s cultures.”
The Be Strong program is available to Soldiers, Army civilians and their family members from units within the Rheinland-Pfalz garrison footprint.
"We have designated programs from ACS, MWR and Outdoor Recreation that introduce new community members to the German culture," said Robinson. "This quick immersion should help increase unit and family cohesion and reduce the amount of early return of dependents."
Be Strong is designed to reduce stress, anxiety and depression associated with moving to a new country through rapid acclimation.
The new program includes courses and orientations that familiarize new community members to the economy and garrison programs and facilities.
“To receive the vouchers for the Be Strong Excursion, participants must complete specific classes and orientation while a free Be Strong city trip is earned through the completion of a Be Strong passport,” said Robinson.
Several activities that can be completed to receive a voucher for the Be Strong Excursion or the Be Strong City Tour are:
• Complete an ACS host-nation tour within 60 days of arrival, $25 voucher
• Complete an ACS German Language Class level 1 within 180 days of arrival, $100
• Complete an ACS German Language Class level 2 within 180 days of arrival, $100
• Complete the Be Strong Passport within 180 days, free Be Strong city tour
The vouchers can be used for any designated Be Strong Excursion MWR trip throughout Germany.
“The Soldier’s Army sponsor will also receive a free Be Strong city tour if the new community member completes their passport,” said Robinson. “Spouses sponsors and teen sponsors over the age of 18 are eligible for the free trip as well.”
Family members who do not complete their passports and want to attend the city trips or bring a child under the age of 18 will have to pay the MWR rate for the trip, but this is a huge cost savings and opportunity to become familiar with beautiful German tourist locations, said Robinson..
ACS has identified MWR trips that meet the qualifications for Outdoor Recreation Be Strong Excursion trips and they are highlighted on the MWR website.
"For us to identify a passport city trip as eligible for the program we make sure it includes a tour guide and training aspects from the program and the voucher Excursion trips are eligible if they are within Germany and on the Be Strong Excursion list,” said Robinson. “If the newcomer has completed requirements for the vouchers they can request for an exception for a trip within Germany that is not listed in the Excursions flyer. We just want the newcomer out and engaged in the German culture."
This joint program keeps people first as the top priority.
"We are happy to support this partnership between Outdoor Recreation and Army Community service where we can utilize two vastly different MWR programs to help support our Soldiers, Army Civilians and their families as they acclimate to their new home while encouraging them to enjoy what Germany has to offer," said Rhonda Hunter, Director of Family and MWR. "The goal of the program is to support and encourage successful onboarding and sponsorship. We are proud to be part of something that is a top priority for the Army and our Garrison, taking care of people."