First impressions matter: AMLC launches comprehensive onboarding program

By Ellen CrownMay 1, 2024

Col. Welde talks to new team members
Col. Marc Welde, center, commander of U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, talks with new AMLC team members at the command’s first new employee welcome brief on April 24. (Photo Credit: Ellen Crown) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT DETRICK, Md. -- A group of Army Civilians filed into the command conference room at U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command.

As the latest crop of AMLC new hires, they expected a welcome brief. The surprise was a pop quiz.

The informal exam was a fun-spirited test of their organizational knowledge. However, its real purpose was to build a connection with the rest of the team.

“First impressions matter and we want to make a good one,” AMLC Commander Col. Marc Welde said.

“We want new team members to be confident in their choice of joining AMLC -- both for our mission impact and our culture,” he said. “So, the quiz is just one fun little part of our welcome brief that helps everyone relax and get to know our organization and each other better.”

On April 1, AMLC headquarters rolled out a new onboarding program for military and civilian employees.

Onboarding refers to the process of introducing newly hired employees into an organization -- a crucial component to not only helping employees understand their new position and job requirements, but also solidifying their bond with the organization and team.

Experts agree that onboarding is a critical period for the employer-employee relationship, where organizations can either earn trust with new hires or stumble to create a lasting connection.

“One of the areas that we knew we had significant room for improvement was our onboarding process,” AMLC Chief of Staff Col. Joe Lim said. “Due to an absence of a standardized onboarding process, new employees experienced inconsistent, disjointed integration and acculturation into our organization. We weren’t supporting our new employees in a way that helped them feel like they are part of the AMLC Family.”

After developing a working group led by AMLC Current Operations Officer Maj. Matthew Smith, the team set out to establish a clear and deliberate AMLC HQ onboarding program.

“The team was given a very clear goal: Develop a program that provides every new employee with a seamless, standardized onboarding journey that unlocks their full potential and accelerates their contribution to our collective success,” Smith said.

While AMLC’s onboarding program includes critical resources, such as checklists, welcome briefs, a new hire handbook and other tools, the foundation of the program is a helpful attitude. To permeate that positivity throughout the organization, the team reinvigorated its sponsorship program.

In the Army, a sponsor assists an incoming Soldier and their family with everything from connecting them to local housing resources to showing them around the installation and recommending the best places to eat.

The role for civilian sponsors is similar; however, the focus is more on building connections to the command and Army culture versus the town since most civilian hires are not new to the Frederick area.

At AMLC, all new military and civilian employees are required to have a sponsor. Additionally, all AMLC sponsors must receive training prior to serving in that role.

“When we do the training, we tell everyone that the most important thing is a positive attitude. The sponsor is the first face new employees see, and they will decide very quickly whether they think this organization is the right fit for them,” said Donyelle Scurry, AMLC’s civilian human resources specialist. “We spend a lot of resources to recruit talent. We need to make sure they feel connected and valued so they want to stay with our organization.”

For new hires like administrative assistant Deanna Stotler, having a good sponsor affected not only her onboarding experience but also her vision of her future within AMLC.

Stotler said her sponsor was especially helpful in explaining how to navigate the different Army information systems used for timekeeping, pay and benefits.

“My sponsor took the time to really sit with me and show me how things work within the onboarding process,” Stotler said. “I am a visual learner so that really helped me gain an idea of what to expect. I strive to also become a sponsor within AMLC and will take my sponsor’s teachings and incorporate them when I am able to do the same.”

Over the next several months, AMLC will assess the results of the new onboarding program and implement process and product improvements. Leaders will be looking at measurable impacts, such as how long it took a new employee to get network access.

Employee feedback will also contribute to refining the program.

“We’re off to a great start,” Smith said, “and we are committed to growing our onboarding program to its full potential.”

AMLC serves as the Army’s Life Cycle Management Command for medical materiel, delivering medical logistics, sustainment and materiel readiness from the strategic support area to the forward tactical edge to increase survivability and sustain fighting strength.

A subordinate command under U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, AMLC headquarters oversee three direct reporting units, including the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Europe and U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea.

To access AMLC’s New Employee Onboarding portal, visit: