By Wendy Brown, USAG WiesbadenJanuary 29, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany (Jan. 29, 2013) -- Spc. Ezonica Castellano's transition to U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden went as smoothly as possible, largely because her sponsor was proactive and eager to help.
Not only did Sgt. Christall Pina contact Castellano before she arrived to answer questions, she had her room set up beforehand and gave her a tour of the area soon after she reported Jan. 11.
"She was very informative and helpful," Castellano said.
Castellano's experience is one garrison officials are working to make the norm for every Soldier who arrives in Wiesbaden. Vanessa Rice, the garrison's sponsorship and benefits coordinator, said she is reaching out to Soldiers and commanders in an effort to get more people trained as sponsors.
Soldiers must receive sponsorship training before becoming a sponsor, and it is offered at 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday in the training room upstairs in the Tony Bass Fitness Center, Rice said.
"Anybody can go," Rice explained. "We're trying to capture the Soldiers doing their inprocessing, so they will already have the training before they make it to the unit, but anybody who is already here can also go to that training."
Also, sponsorship program managers from units can become trained to train other Soldiers in the unit, Rice said. Or, an Army Community Service representative will go to the unit and do the training.
Soldiers should be aware that the training must be renewed every year, Rice said.
Rice urges Soldiers to do their best as a sponsor, remembering that it is necessary to stay in touch before, during and after arrival.
"What makes a good sponsor is someone who is willing to be available," Rice said. "You should keep in contact. You should answer the emails, and if you can't answer a question, ask ACS, your program manager, or me. Just don't drop the ball and not answer the question. Be on time, assist and have a positive attitude."
Castellano said she has not only had a positive experience as a newcomer, but also being a sponsor.
As a sponsor at Fort Riley, Kan., Castellano said she had the opportunity to sponsor a Soldier who was new to the country and was extremely grateful for Castellano's assistance assimilating to the United States.
"It's good to be able to help people," she said.
The standard operating procedure is that 100 percent of Soldiers in all units are supposed to receive a sponsor within 30 days of a permanent change of station, Rice said.
Wiesbaden is currently at 66 percent, but the numbers are a little skewed because of the number of people moving to Wiesbaden from Heidelberg who are familiar with Germany and feel they do not need a sponsor, Rice said.
Rice and the unit program managers are diligently working to reinvigorate the sponsorship program to ensure all Soldiers and family members receive a warm hospitable welcome as they transition to their new home in the Wiesbaden community.
Wiesbaden also has a relatively new Spouse Sponsorship program, and 15 spouses are trained to be sponsors to fellow spouses, said Jodie DeLeon, ACS relocation technician and head of the Spouse Sponsorship program.
Nearly all the trained spouses have either begun sponsoring or have sponsored incoming spouses, said DeLeon. The next training will take place at 9 a.m. Feb. 4 at the ACS Center in Building 7790 on Hainerberg Housing area (across the street from Army Lodging).
For more information on sponsorship and the many resources available for sponsors, visit www.militaryonesource.mil/moving?content_id=266791.