SCHINNEN, Netherlands - Lt. Col. Jack Bone had only minutes to react when his young daughter accidently stepped on a piece of glass and sliced a deep gouge in her foot. Thanks to the orientation he received at USAG Schinnen’s newcomers program, he knew where to go for help. He and his wife had participated in the newcomers program just a few months prior to the accident and toured the local hospital as part of that program.

“When the accident happened, there was so much blood that we couldn’t really assess how severe it was, but I knew I could get her to the hospital in a matter of minutes, versus waiting for an ambulance, because they’d shown us how to get to the hospital on the tour. They’d even pointed out which door to use because it goes directly to the emergency room,” Lt. Col. Bone recalled.

Newcomer programs like the one at USAG Schinnen have been a cornerstone of in-processing for military personnel and families at overseas locations for the past 40 years. Beginning Aug. 1, Installation Management Command Europe (IMCOM Europe) updates the long-standing orientation known as “Headstart” with a new program called “Culture College” for newcomers in all U.S. Army in Europe garrisons.

USAG Schinnen’s Culture College newcomer orientation will consist of a two-day course, with more focus on cultural adaptation. Day one covers Dutch customs and tips, plus basic language skills necessary for shopping, eating out and using public transportation. Day two includes a guided tour to points of interest around the Tri-Border area, including shopping spots, sightseeing locations, restaurants and places newcomers need to know like local hospitals and military installations.

Lt. Col. Bone thinks the tour and practical information are the most valuable benefits of the orientation. “A lot of times, the Army offers programs that I think I don’t need because I’ve already been in the military for 23 years, but you don’t realize how valuable this information is until you actually need it,” he explained.

“It’s like they always say, ‘your training takes over when you come under fire.’ In my case, the newcomers training took over when I needed to react in a moment of crisis,” he said.

Trudy Wheatley, USAG Schinnen’s Acting ACS Director, said the program is especially valuable for Soldiers, civilians and family members who have limited experience with different languages or cultures.

“Newcomers orientation makes life a lot easier. With the focus on culture and language, newcomers get the tips they need to settle into the Netherlands, plus the tour gives newcomers a fun way to learn about their new community and make their transitions so much better,” Wheatley explained.

Soldiers, civilians and family members interested in learning additional language skills can take advantage of numerous programs such as Rosetta Stone on Army Knowledge Online or language classes taught at nearby JFC HQ Brunssum or Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base.

For more information about upcoming newcomer orientation and tours, contact Schinnen’s Relocation Readiness manager at 0031-46-443-7500 or check USAG Schinnen’s Facebook page for a listing under “Events.”