Sponsors are compass for newcomers, including spouses

By Lena Stange
USAG Wiesbaden Public Affairs
Updated by USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

It can be confusing, if not overwhelming, when nearly everything in life is new. Relying on some kind of compass to navigate the new environment can be very helpful. The sponsorship programs for service members, spouses, civilians, and adolescents are exactly that: a kind of compass that helps newcomers transition smoothly into their new lives.

While employees normally start out their work pretty quickly after arrival, and thus have the possibility to have questions answered by coworkers, spouses often stay at home and have to struggle with the obstacles of daily life in a new country.

The Relocation Readiness Program is in constant need of family member sponsors to help newcomers feel welcome and part of the community. Sponsors can make a big difference, and on average, newcomers get used to their new homes faster. In Stuttgart, 78 percent of the population lives off-post, making settling in a longer process to overcome house hunting in a new language.

Potential sponsors receive one- to two-hour face-to-face training to make them feel comfortable helping spouses integrate into their new lives. Training connects incoming spouses with Spouse Sponsors and Family Readiness Groups at the gaining unit or organization.

If questions or problems arise that the sponsor cannot handle, Army Community Service (ACS) and the USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs office are always a good resource for official answers and assistance.

ACS and Stuttgart Health Clinic Behavioral Health also have counselors who help with transitional depressions, family issues and other problems.

Stuttgart’s ACS describes the training as an invaluable service if experiencing a first transition in a military unit or a permanent change of station (PCS) move overseas. Sponsors are expected to give a warm welcome, answer lots of questions on daily life and give tours of the garrison and the surrounding areas. Free tours are also offered by the USO Stuttgart as well as the USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office, open to all ID cardholders, including contractors.

However, not only the spouses benefit from the program: new and long-lasting friendships might arise, and every sponsor is registered in the ACS volunteer program, the hours are tracked, and a volunteer service record is created, which can be added to the resume. When searching for a new job, this can be of great help.

Service members and civilians who change duty stations within the Army usually receive a Sponsorship Program Counseling and Information Sheet where they can request a sponsor for themselves. If the spouse also needs a sponsor, the service member should indicate that to the gaining organization. New spouses are always welcome to contact the ACS Spouse Sponsorship Program directly too, to have a sponsor assigned. Sponsors and spouses are normally matched to be in similar life situations.

For spouses who accompany their husbands or wives for the first time, there are additional opportunities to get used to Army life abroad. They can, for example, take part in Army Family Team Building trainings to learn about military life. The sponsorship program is also a chance to meet people and get involved.

For more information, and to join in upcoming training sessions, visit the Spouse Sponsorship Program page, or call ACS at DSN: 431-3362/civ. 07031-15-3362.

To request a youth sponsor, contact the School Liaison Officer.