HEIDELBERG, Germany - Soldier transition centers in Europe will change how they provide service to Soldiers as part of Installation Management Command-Europe's focus on finding more efficient ways to assist Soldiers and Families.

Transition centers - TCs - at several locations will be converted from full-time facilities to remote facilities that will provide service on appointment-basis only, according to Glen Snow, IMCOM-Europe chief of Theater Personnel Services.

The change, said Snow, is based on customer usage data and better aligns resources to match customer usage. IMCOM-Europe has modified the current TC contract to convert five of the 12 TCs to remote sites.

"We have a number of facilities that have only sporadic usage, while other facilities have more consistent customer usage," said Snow. "So, in order to save taxpayer dollars and more efficiently use our money and resources, we are transitioning five of the 12 TCs to remote sites requiring Soldiers to make appointments."

Germany-based TCs at the Bamberg, Baumholder, Heidelberg and Mannheim are to be converted to remote sites starting in April. Hohenfels is already a remote TC.

Soldiers based in Garmisch will continue to be served by the Vilseck TC. In Italy, Soldiers based in Livorno will continue to be served by the Vicenza TC.

The main sites will provide services one day a week at each of the five remote locations. Soldiers at locations converting to remote locations will be able to call a Main TC service provider to set up appointments. To make appointments, Soldiers from Baumholder will call the TC at Kaiserslautern; Soldiers from Heidelberg and Mannheim will call the TC at Wiesbaden; Soldiers from Bamberg will call the TC at Ansbach; and Soldiers at Hohenfels will call the TC at Vilseck.

"The appointment basis will be the new 'normal' for remote locations. However, we understand that occasionally a customer's needs will fall outside the normal. We'll work with customers to ensure they get the service they need," said Snow.

TCs are administered as part of an Army contract established in Europe in 1995 to eliminate the need for Soldiers from Europe having to travel to Fort Dix, N.J., or Fort Jackson, Miss., for separation processing. Since then, the Army in Europe has undergone a gradual drawdown, but the TC structure was never changed to align resources to a smaller population, explained Snow.

Remote TCs will be fully functional but will not be open full time. Operating hours will be publicized before the TCs open for business, explained Snow. The staff of remote TCs will be based at hub TCs and travel to remote sites to provide service on specific days of the week.

This change is expected to take place at the four remaining Germany-based garrisons by April 7. The change, said Snow, will not lower the level of service provided by TCs; it will merely change the method of delivering of that service. In addition, by introducing an appointment-based operation, all TCs will be able to provide even more effective service to their customers.

"This change makes sense in a fiscal way and a Soldier way," said Snow. "It is designed to ease the budget burden as well as ensure Soldiers get the service they need."