Sponsoring our Airmen

by Master Sgt. Stephen Scofield
86th Munitions Squadron first sergeant

Service members make significant sacrifices on a daily basis. Like no other profession in the world, our volunteer members sacrifice their freedoms. Members of our military are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The phone rings and our Airmen are called to the fight. As Air Force members, it is imperative we take care of our Airmen and their families.

Unit first sergeants make the sponsorship program a top priority, because it encompasses our duty to help improve the health, morale and welfare of our Airmen. Sponsoring inbound members is one of the most important responsibilities our Airmen overseas bestow. As everyone knows, a sponsor is the first impression our inbound personnel and families have of the installation and unit of assignment.

It begins by assigning sponsors who are as close to the inbound member’s rank and marital status as possible. The sponsor should contact the inbound member when the gaining unit is first notified. He or she must be in constant communication online and over the telephone before their arrival, answering any and all questions, from what schools the children will attend to what duties they will perform in their new unit.

This is when the sponsor needs to reserve lodging and secure a post office box and send the sponsor package that includes a welcome letter from the unit commander.

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to flood the newcomers with as much information as possible. According to the Airman & Family Readiness Center, the biggest pitfalls for sponsors are a lack of communication with inbound personnel prior to arrival, lack of sponsors for spouses and lack of practical transportation arranged by sponsors.

Once the member arrives in Germany, they should be greeted by a sponsor who is positive, motivated and experienced with in-processing on the base and in the unit.

Typically, the new member should be taken to lodging for much needed rest before their introduction to the KMC.
Every supervisor, first sergeant, superintendent and commander should greet their new members and provide them a newcomer’s basket. The baskets should be stocked with basic necessities, such as laundry detergent, microwavable meals, snacks and a current “The Find-It Guide.” If possible, every unit should also give their new
members a temporary prepaid cell phone with an international plan. The phone should be pre-loaded with the telephone numbers of all key squadron members and useful base phone numbers.

The most impacting unit sponsor programs have total buy-in by all members. A spouses group working alongside military members can ensure exceptional results. They can provide that additional perspective and experience of moving overseas, enrolling children into new schools and simply outfitting the home for 220-volt appliances.

The goal is to enhance the mission by being there for our spouses and families. This can be accomplished by asking the spouses group to be involved in your unit’s program. Most of those stationed here are away from their extended families and separated by an ocean. The Airmen and the mission deserve our full attention to make this assignment a great one.
To improve your unit’s intro and sponsorship program, refer to Air Force Instruction 36-2103 or call the A&FRC at 480-5100. The A&FRC offers monthly training for sponsors and spouse’s sponsors and will provide you with any additional information you may require.