Be a super sponsor: Take extra steps to welcome newcomers
By Senior Airman Marissa Tucker, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 08, 2012
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Those who have been associated with the military for more than a few years are familiar with many of the challenges that come with moving to a new base, making new friends, and many times helping children readjust to the area. Circumstances vary with every move, but for some, one thing is always a given.
It never gets any easier.
From a brand new airman first class fresh out of technical school to the master sergeant who's on his fifth permanent change-of-station, there are always new challenges to face. As Airmen, we know that moving frequently is a part of the lifestyle, but we should not become immune to the potential stressors that come along with that, especially when we can help.
This is where sponsors either succeed or fail. Providing information about the base, housing, schools, the work place and several other things about the instillation make the assignment become real and help people feel more at ease when they arrive. People may like surprises, but usually not in the form of unknown bills, fees and missed opportunities. Try to let them know what you can before they arrive. No one likes an ambush.
Sponsoring goes beyond sending a newcomer's guide and providing a few facts about the area. Getting to know the newly arriving person, providing an address for them to ship items, setting up inprocessing appointments and ensuring their lodging needs are met are just some of the things a sponsor should do.
The list is endless, depending on the person and their needs. The key is to behave as though they know nothing about this new place, which is many times the case. How many people here have stories about being unaware of the currency the meters in the cabs display or overpaying for items?
Maybe the newcomer has a spouse who is interested in starting a business here. They may be unaware that they need a license to sell goods or have a business on base. Maybe they have a pet, but there is no room at the vet clinic and the hotel does not have any pet-friendly rooms available?
Taking the time to get to know newcomers will provide many of the answers to the random questions and situations that may arise. Whether the person will arrive alone to live in the dorms or with a spouse, children and pets in tow, they deserve our time and attention. Most would agree it is not ideal to arrive at a new base and feel as though no one cares you are there.
So what can we do to make sure we are all super sponsors? Talk to your people!
You will work closely with them for months or even a few years. Why not get started early? Remember the things you wanted to know or learned. Simple, helpful tips, such as purchasing a transformer for appliances, commissary hours and the currency conversion can help avoid several problems or inconveniences. You would be surprised how many things are common knowledge to you now that was learned by trial and error.
Resources like the Airman & Family Readiness Center or spouse's groups offer essential information and materials for sponsors to make newcomers feel welcome. Along with squadron implemented programs, new Airmen should be set up for success instead of stress when they arrive.
Encourage new and future members of Team Incirlik to visit www.incirlik.af.mil, or visit the wing Facebook page here to access information about the 39th Air Base Wing. For more information on the wing sponsorship program, contact the A&FRC at DSN 676-6755.