Your Sponsor: Your Guiding Light
By Arlene H. Hull & Tracy Snyder for LIFELines
You have PCS orders for your next assignment. You've pulled out the world atlas, stopped by the local library, and checked out every book you can find on the area you will soon call home. Whether your move is across the state, across the continent, or across the ocean, a good sponsor can be your guiding light through the entire ordeal of your move.
Not every command has a sponsor program in place, so if you don't hear from a sponsor soon after receiving your PCS orders, contact your new command and ask them about it. If you're PCSing overseas, your sponsor can advise you about currency exchange, housing options, cost of living, and childcare. He or she can tell you about the climate and what kind of clothes to bring, and can give you a perspective on the culture.
When you get your sponsor, you can help him or her be the best sponsor possible. First, provide complete information about your travel arrangements and arrival time. Don't expect your sponsor to know your needs — be very specific about them. One military spouse advises, "Don't ask your sponsor to do anything for you that you really could do for yourself." And, most important, remember that your sponsor has volunteered to help you.
To request a sponsor from their new command, Sailors should access the StayNavy's Sponsor Assignment Aid (SAA) program. Sponsor Coordinators can click here to provide their contact information, which is needed before Sailors can make requests to a particular command.
Prepare a list of questions about the area you will be living in. A lot of your questions can be answered by looking at the information available from Navy Surface Spouses. If you can't find the answers there, ask your sponsor. By minimizing the number of questions you ask and being organized as you ask them, you'll help your sponsor respond better.
Ask your sponsor about their situation as well. Knowing if they have children at home, or if the spouse works outside the home, can help you know how available your sponsor will be for you.
They Need to Know
The most important things to tell your sponsor are your family's immediate needs. If you are arriving by air and your sponsor has agreed to pick you up, now might be a good time to warn them that you'll arrive with two car seats, a stroller, two sets of golf clubs, and the family pet in addition to your family members. Ask about rental cars or public transportation so you can get around until your vehicle arrives — don't expect that your sponsor will be able to drive you everywhere you need to go.
If your family includes an exceptional family member, be sure to let your sponsor know what special needs that family member may have. Although your new command may have already passed this information on to your sponsor, it is still a good idea to communicate all information and needs of your family.
If your sponsor offers to make lodging arrangements for you before your arrival, let them know of any special sleeping arrangements your family may have. If you have school-age children, ask about the local schools. If the spouse needs to be employed outside of the home as soon as possible after your relocation, inquire about the job market. One good resource for this is the Navy Spouse Employment Program (SEAP), which can help a military spouse with everything from career planning to writing a résumé, interview techniques, and networking. Most local newspapers can now be accessed online and are a good way to learn more about your new home.
Above all, remember that your sponsor has volunteered to help you, so the more you can help them help you, the smoother and more enjoyable this relocation will be for your family.