JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
A variety of challenges and concerns may arise as Airmen prepare to move from one duty location to another. Having a good sponsor can make the transition for those inbound with permanent change of station orders smoother.
According to Elsa Summers, Joint Base Charleston’s Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, many service members PCS during the months of June, July, August and September. Summers said sponsors help ensure an easier process and are part of a support system that directly influences service members and their families by facilitating a smooth relocation which allows them to focus on the mission and not issues which come with moving.
“What you want people to do is arrive at their new station just about ready to hit the ground running,” said Summers. “Sponsors can provide information where they can start looking into things like housing, schools, job information and the area.”
Airman Rachel Hickam, 628th Communications Squadron, was sponsored by Tech. Sgt. Patrice Owens, 628th CS, after graduating from technical training school. Hickam said she was grateful for the amount of care Owens put forth to make the experience a good one.
“She cleaned my room so it was move-in ready for me,” said Hickam. “When it came to transportation, she made sure I had a ride to where I needed to go. She also gave me good financial advice for buying my own vehicle. My sponsor impressed me greatly with the amount of support she provided.”
Sponsors have several tools they can take advantage of to become more effective points of contact for inbound Airmen. From agencies like the A&FRC to DOD websites, those tasked with the official duty can acquire the resources and knowledge to support incoming service members.
“There’s a lot of things now that can be done before someone actually gets here,” said Summers. “We have an electronic sponsor package. Sponsors can send that information and the person can start doing research prior to arriving. They can use their sponsor to answer questions and be pointed in the right direction.”
Summers said it’s important for sponsors to go online and complete a 30-minute training lesson on the Military One Source website. The training provides sponsors with ideas and tips to make the process easier. The site links the sponsor to DOD and service sites supporting the PCS process.
“For the Air Force, it’s all done on the Military One Source website,” said Summers. “Sponsors can get all the resources and information they need to be a good sponsor. Use common sense. What would you like someone to do for you when you go to a new place?”
The Military One Source training can be accessed at http://apps.militaryonesource.mil/esat. The eSAT provides assigned sponsors tools to support inbound Airmen including sample service-specific welcome letters, newcomer needs assessment guides, email templates and ideas and information to help sponsors better ease the transition.
“If you’re inbound and haven’t been provided a sponsor you can always call the A&FRC and they can make that connection for you,” said Summers. “I know sometimes people can be a little hesitant. They’re going to be working in that unit and might not want to make waves but by calling the A&FRC, we’ll make that connection.”