News: Good sponsors provide smooth transition for newcomers, give positive first impression
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- With the permanent change of station season in full swing, RAF Mildenhall is starting to gain many new military and civilian members and families. Making the transition here as smooth as possible for newcomers gives them a good start to life in a new country and a new base.
Having a good sponsor makes all the difference to new personnel, said Nona Daugherty, 100th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant.
"If they receive all the help and information they require, before and when they get here, they are much more likely to start with a positive view of their new assignment. Sponsors are the first impression of the base, so always keep a positive attitude with your new troop," she said.
Anyone within the gaining unit, whether military or civilian, can potentially be a sponsor. Daugherty said the Air Force tries to match up incoming troops with sponsors having similar situations, such as single Airmen, or members with families or pets, who will understand the pitfalls and stresses involved.
"There are three main things you can do to be a good sponsor," she said, adding the first step is to appoint a sponsor who is able to relate to the needs of the newcomer.
"Keep in mind it might not just be the military member coming here," said Daugherty. They may have a spouse, children and pets. Pairing them with someone who is in similar circumstances, so they are aware of their needs (such as schools and pet rooms in billeting) will make life much easier all round."
Once someone is appointed as a sponsor, they are required to take two forms of sponsor training; online training, followed by in-house, U.K.-specific training conducted by the Airman and Family Readiness center.
"The U.K.-specific training covers topics such as shipping pets, cost of utilities and housing areas, as well as discussing trends and any issues that attendees may have experienced themselves while (moving) here," said the community readiness consultant.
Secondly, she said it's important to open and maintain communication at all times - give your inbound people your work, home and cell phone numbers, so they can contact you at any time with questions.
"Thirdly, utilize good time management - keep organized and ensure items don't fall through the cracks," said Daugherty. "You don't want to cause them added stress, for example, when they show up and there's no billeting room booked or available for them."
She added it's important to remember that being a sponsor doesn't stop the minute the new Team Mildenhall member arrives at the airport or on base.
"You should definitely have a 'Plan A' and 'Plan B' for their arrival, in case their flight changes or a problem occurs and they miss the bus to base," Daugherty said. "(When they arrive,) take them to billeting to check in, and have a welcome basket of groceries waiting for them in their room," said Daugherty. "Once they're settled, take them to sign into the base, then over to the Airman and Family Readiness Center, to show what resources are available to them.
"It's also a nice touch to give them a tour of the area. Include the entire family, and accommodate the needs of the spouse and children. It's also good to include your own family as well," she added.
Explaining the differences between the bases here is also important. Both the military or civilian member and their families will need to know that the hospital, commissary and main base exchange are at RAF Lakenheath, while other support services are available to them here.
Once settled and signed into base, the military member must attend the newcomers' briefing, held Tuesdays and Thursdays. Daugherty said it is also beneficial for spouses to attend, as they can learn information they may not hear about otherwise.
"Both days are mandatory for the military member, and optional for the spouse," she said. "However, both days contain important information, and members should be aware that their spouse (and anyone in the family aged 17 or above, who will be driving here) must attend the briefing on Thursday, as it contains vital information on driving in the U.K."
Children are not permitted at any of the briefings. However, 20 hours free childcare (per child) is available to newcomers to use during this time. It is paid for by Air Force Aid Society and uses childcare providers on base. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the free childcare should apply at the Airman and Family Readiness Center as soon as possible after arriving at the base.
For more information on being a sponsor, call Nona Daugherty at DSN 238-3406.
This work, Good sponsors provide smooth transition for newcomers, give positive first impression, by Karen Abeyasekere, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.
Date Posted:07.02.2012 09:21
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