Changes challenge incoming families amid coronavirus

By Col. Jason Condrey
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Garrison Commander Col. Jason Condrey speaks to the community during a July livestream town hall. Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart

Summer for military families often means change. For many of us, that means packing up our entire households and moving our homes.

We watch movers put little numbered tags on all our possessions and load everything into crates to ship to a faraway place. We bundle up kids and pets, then carry bags to hotels and airports. It can be a lot to handle, even for experienced families.

This year, we have the added coronavirus measures to take into consideration.

We now have hundreds of newcomers arriving in the Stuttgart military community. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a moment.

For people arriving from the U.S., a nasal swab to test for the coronavirus at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic is their first welcome. For most, a two-week stay in the Panzer hotel on post or one of our local establishments, doing their best to maintain their distance, is their next step. The efforts of our on-post lodging staff are making their stay as comfortable and safe as possible.

When finished with their quarantine, newcomers are integrating into their organizations. Our garrison team has created a virtual in-processing experience, where most of the information newcomers need can be accessed on videos linked to the USAG Stuttgart app. Some things must still be done in person, by appointment, while wearing a mask.

Some are getting their kids ready for school. Our local school staffs are doing everything they can now to put protective measures in place. They are also offering a virtual classroom option for those who choose that format. That decision, for newcomers, can be made upon arrival.

For those of us who’ve worn the uniform, change may come a little easier. It’s part of the job. For families, especially children, it might not be as easy. The garrison and its partner organizations have programs and services for family members during these stressful times. Stopping by Army Community Service, the USO and the American Red Cross should be part of any newcomer’s agenda.

Finally, August is when we reinforce antiterrorism awareness. We live in uncertain times. We live and work overseas. Our adversaries have not given up their causes. With violence arising in places we might have once considered safe, now more than ever we must remain vigilant and not let our guard down. Taking some time to evaluate your exposure and following our antiterrorism guidance is prudent this month and throughout the year.

Information at the garrison changes daily. Our commitment to you is to communicate early and often about changes. Follow the garrison on social media and tune into our livestream and AFN broadcasts to stay up to date.

Despite all the changes, before long you will join us in saying, “I’m glad I live here.”