Preparing for PCS? The Total Army Sponsorship Program can help
WASHINGTON — Moving can mean a fresh start in a new and potentially exciting place. But no matter how easy or difficult, it always means extensive planning and preparation, incurring expenses, disrupting regular schedules for children, interrupting relationships and putting a lot of space between you and the people you care most about.
“The difficulty (of a move) fluctuates depending on an individual’s situation; to name a few, it can range from the unknowns of employment for spouses, displacing children from a school and neighborhood where they established strong bonds, knowing the best areas to live or selecting the best school districts,” says Master Sgt. Antoinette Francois, Provisional Total Army Sponsorship Program, or TASP, program manager.
In addition to the physical move, the emotional weight of leaving people and places behind can make a move daunting. When you’re starting over in a new, unfamiliar place, making new relationships and connections is vital to your success — whether those are with your new command, unit, fellow Soldier, coworker, chaplain or even your new commissary worker.
TASP is the Army’s solution to difficult moves to new places both in within and outside the continental United States. TASP is a commanders’ program to assist Soldiers, DA civilians and Families when they are relocating into and out of their commands. This program jump-starts relationships and builds connections that enhance resilience and prevent potential complications before the Soldier even arrives at their new duty station.
Lorna King, human resources specialist, installation sponsorship coordinator and quality control for the Military Personnel Division of the Directorate of Human Resources for U.S. Army Garrison Fort Gregg-Adams says, “A well-run sponsorship program will minimize delays, problems and distractions for newcomers during relocation and transition at the new assignment and improve unit cohesion and readiness.”
Whether it be your first military move or what feels like your zillionth, arriving at a new place and getting organized all while completing in-processing tasks and paperwork may feel like you’re set up for disaster. TASP is there to reduce the strain associated with military moves by connecting Soldiers and their Families to a sponsor.
“Sponsorship mitigates most of the issues that may arise during the [permanent change of station] move. The new unit/command assigns the incoming personnel/Soldier a sponsor to facilitate any questions and concerns that the new personnel/Soldier may have,” says King. The sponsor will function as a type of coach, gradually reducing their involvement based on the Soldier’s ability to function independently by encouraging engagement with community as they settle their new roots.
Having a sponsor can simplify transition to a new station. “The program helps Soldiers and Families get settled quicker and easier,” says Francois. The program and assigned sponsor offer support and guidance by understanding the needs of the Soldier and their Family members. Sponsors help with pre-arrival and arrival tasks and become that first connection, which help set the Soldier and their Family members up for success.
“The sponsor is responsible for providing the resources the Soldier requires to ensure a seamless and less stressful transition," says King. "Having a sponsor is like having a friend or a Family member on the other end providing the necessary information based on the need of the Soldier and Family.”
“The Total Army Sponsorship Program is intended to create a relationship between the command and its personnel that encourages commanders to help their Soldiers and employees,” says King.
Building these relationships before the Soldier even arrives enhances the assimilation process and gives valuable information to incoming Soldiers they may otherwise not have, but access to the sponsor doesn’t end at arrival. Francois shares that sponsors support inbound Soldiers enrolled in TASP for 45 days after arrival so they have someone who can help well into the first month at a new duty station.
TASP seeks to lower risk factors that lead to negative experiences for Soldiers, DA Civilians and their Family members by increasing protective factors. Knowing you already have a confidant and guiding light at your new location can ease stress associated with moves for all parties involved, even if you’re moving alone.
Francois and King note the multiple benefits that single Soldiers or Soldiers moving alone would have by enrolling in the program, including introduction to unit leaders and information about the community and near-future unit deployments and whether there is on-post housing or whether office space is located in nearby leased buildings and not on post.
Exceptional sponsorship can promote successful adjustments for newcomers, boost morale, improve well-being, increase readiness, encourage adaptation and make for successful missions. Francois shares that sponsorship not only benefits the inbound Soldiers but those who are sponsors. She says, “Being a sponsor is altruistic, and selfless service is front and center in sponsoring. The unit, inbound personnel and their Family will all benefit from sponsorship when done with care, knowledge and sincerity.” Sponsors should receive training on how to lead sponsorship activities. You can find specific garrison information on its respective TASP web page.
Types of sponsorship can include:
- Advanced arrival sponsorship ensures a smooth transition into the Army or unit and where the command assigns a sponsor before the Soldier or Civilian arrives.
- Out-sponsorship aids Soldiers moving to a new assignment or out of the Army entirely.
- Emergency permanent change of station and special cases is for situations where Soldiers and Family members do not normally receive help and may need power of attorney or a summary court officer if a sponsor or Family member is not available.
- Reactionary sponsorship happens when the gaining command provides reactionary sponsorship for unprogrammed arrivals or when other factors prevent advance arrival sponsorship.
- Youth sponsorship pairs military children with a sponsor before their big move. More information on youth sponsorship is available here.
Sponsorship benefits all parties involved. For Families, the sponsor can help them find out what services are available before they arrive to assist in their planning process.
Francois shares, “Before the arrival of inbound personnel, identification of the support needed, whether it is Army Community Service, Exceptional Family Member Program support, any changes in arrival dates, family readiness groups support, child care services and informing of any waitlist, can lessen stress and anxiety from the unknown.” The sponsor can continue helping and supporting as well as answer any lingering questions they may have after their arrival.
TASP is vital to building the readiness and resilience of Soldiers and their Families by giving them a solid place to land when they arrive at their new unit. According to King, the “TASP program is important because this is Soldiers helping Soldiers. It enhances unit readiness and resilience. When a Soldier comes into a new unit and a sponsor is there to greet them, this validates that the Army, unit and the community care. This is a new Soldier’s first perception of the new unit and the Army. So, TASP is very important in unit readiness and retention. When Soldiers are welcome to a new unit/location with care, they will want to serve with pride.”
Sponsorship through TASP increases the likelihood of success for newcomers. It helps build resilience and readiness by being a rock for inbound Soldiers to lean on while they get used to their new stations. It can also help with retention rates, as it shows Soldiers and Family members that their success at new stations matters to their leader and the Army. Francois says, “Sponsorship plays a vital role in reception and integration. We all know the first impression is lasting, increasing the likelihood of success.”
If you are a Soldier or Family member looking for more information on TASP or for the Sponsorship Awareness Course, visit the Army Resilience Directorate TASP web page. Are you looking to become a sponsor? Fill out the eSponorship application and take the training course here.