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Early contact eases newcomers’ transition

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Being in the military can be stressful, especially when moving to a new base. Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center leaders are encouraging early contact with inbound AFIMSC newcomers and families to ensure smooth transitions into the organization. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kylee Thomas)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –  Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center leaders are encouraging early contact with inbound AFIMSC newcomers and families to ensure smooth transitions into the organization. 

“Reaching out early is extremely important. It sets a great tone when you get a welcome from your sponsor,” said Chief Master Sgt. Edwin Ludwigsen, AFIMSC command chief master sergeant. “When you first get an assignment notification, all kinds of questions come to mind. Having a sponsor helps you get the information you need to set your family up for a smooth move.”

The chief recommends connecting newcomers with a sponsor who understands their specific circumstances. 

“It’s important to provide a sponsor with similar family demographics to the newcomers. For example, you should try to avoid assigning a single Airman as the sponsor for an inbound family with five kids because they may not be as familiar with the needs of that family,” he said. 

To help sponsors provide the best support available to newcomers, AFIMSC is revamping the center’s sponsor program, according to Senior Master Sgt. John Dukes, AFIMSC First Sergeant. The program includes a sponsor packet with area maps, school district information and contact information for helping agencies on base such as the exceptional family member program, life skills the school liaison office. 

“After arriving, Krista and I found the school system and local laws sounding school enrollment to be quite complicated.” Ludwigsen said. “Newcomers with school-age children should definitely reach out to the school liaison officer prior to their arrival because it could influence where your children can go to school and where you decide to live.”

The sponsor packet also includes information about childcare during a permanent change of station and other family services. Dukes said he plans to add more AFIMSC-specific information as the program evolves.

In addition to the sponsor packet, every installation provides many other resources to help sponsors and newcomers reduce the stress of moving. For example, the Relocation Readiness Program at Joint Base San Antonio serves as a one-stop shop for delivering relocation information and assistance, according to Tracy Bramlett, community readiness consultant with the JBSA-Lackland Military and Family Readiness Center.

Military families moving to San Antonio can get up-to-date information about the installation and community, learn how to prepare for their move, and check out the job market through the program.

“We provide assistance, counseling, education and training throughout all phases of the relocation process,” Bramlett said, recommending that newcomers start planning their transition to a new base at least 90 days in advance of their move. 

For more information about the JBSA Relocation Readiness Program, visit https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Military-Family-Readiness/Relocation-Readiness/. For information at other AFIMSC locations, contact that installation’s Military and Family Readiness Center.