4 tips on being an amazing sponsor
Moving to a new duty station has its pros and cons. On the positive side, you’re getting to discover a new place you may have never thought to go before. On the flip side, it’s stressful to learn a new town and meet new people. Imagine the compounded stress of moving to a new country!
Think back to when you first found out you were going to be moving to Europe. Do you remember all the questions you had? Do you remember how high your anxiety levels were? I remember it like it was last year (Oh, wait ... It was!). I was so excited for this move, but I had a million questions. I hadn’t a clue what to expect. Thankfully, our sponsor family was so helpful and flexible! Unfortunately, not everyone has the same experience.
If you are seriously considering becoming a sponsor, here are some helpful tips on how to assist someone else’s transition to Europe.
Be committed - It’s truly sad to hear all the horror stories of some sponsor experiences. Before you volunteer or get voluntold, know this is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. No matter your previous experiences, this is your opportunity to make someone else’s transition absolutely awesome! You will sacrifice some of your personal time. It will take some initiative. However, isn’t that part of what the core values of each branch teaches us? We need to take care of each other from the very beginning.
Make the first step - They’re elsewhere in the throes of tying up their previous life. They may forget that you’re out there to answer questions and help them prepare for their new life. Take the first step by emailing or calling them to introduce yourself. Get information about who you’re sponsoring. For example, their spouse, children, pets and interests.
Arm yourself and them with resources - You don’t have to know everything. However, knowing where to go is the key. Here are a few things to keep at your fingertips:
- Applicable websites - This makes it easy to find phone and building numbers. Sites for the installation, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Family Support Squadron and Stripes Europe are a great start. If they have children, they will need information on child care or schools. Spouses may want to know about local groups to join.
- Handy guides - Army Community Service, Airman and Family Readiness Center or Fleet and Family Support Center sometimes have welcome packets they will mail to incoming Servicemembers and civilians. You can mail copies of Stripes Europe’s “Just Landed,” “Stripes Europe,” and the latest “What’s Up” magazine. You can pick them up at your local AAFES, Shopette or Commissary. Emailing the links to each publication is helpful so they can refer to each on their mobile device.
Roll out the red carpet - Not everyone is excited about being a sponsor. However, keep in mind that you were new once too. When your sponsee lands, try to meet them at the airport and escort them to their temporary lodging. Make arrangements to give them a tour of the installation(s) they’ll be utilizing the most, including all the gates, AAFES facilities, In/Out-processing, ID Card facility, medical treatment facility, etc.
Be the sponsor that gives someone that warm fuzzy feeling of being welcomed into a new unit and community. Don’t start by being the star of yet another horror story.
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