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Supportive spouses sponsoring spouses

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- I've found over the years, relocating yourself and your family can be a stressful aspect in the military, but having a good sponsor can make all the difference. When people are stressed about relocating, they cannot fully concentrate on accomplishing the Air Force mission. As a spouse, there is an even greater need for sponsorship as it can also affect the active duty member.

Spouse sponsorship is a voluntary program intended for spouse-to-spouse connection and assistance. It is beneficial to spouses, active duty members, squadrons, leadership and the Air Force as a whole. Manning for the program would come from volunteer spouses. In a spouse sponsor program, key players are spouse volunteers, unit intro monitor(s) and the Airman and Family Readiness Center personnel. Units are encouraged to implement a spouse sponsor program. A&FRC, Ramstein Enlisted Spouses Club and the Ramstein Officer Spouses Club will take volunteers, provide training and refer volunteers back to their unit. During the training, spouse sponsors acquire essential skills such as communication, resourcefulness, creativity, leadership and what it means to be an Air Force "wingman."

Steps to initiate a unit's spouse sponsor program are simple, and as a spouse from the 86th Communications Squadron, and other 86th CS spouses and I saw a need for spouse sponsorship and used resources from existing programs to establish ours.

The process to implement the program wasn't difficult. I first met with the unit commander for approval. Next, I obtained spouse sponsor training from the A&FRC. After discussing the issue with other squadron personnel, I learned we had one new spouse coming and was able to get her contact information. Once I contacted the inbound spouse, I sent them a family needs assessment to generate specific information that would pertain to the family's specific needs. Prior to arrival, I assisted the inbound family with community information, and once they arrived, I met with the new spouse and assisted with driving her to the Ramstein Spouses Orientation, commissary, Kaiserslautern Military Community Center, and various other locations around the KMC.

The intent is for spouse sponsor skills to kick in before families arrive and continue after they are settled as part of our community.

Being a part of the spouse sponsor program will allow spouses to create lifelong friendships and assist in making a positive impression on the KMC. The bottom line is we as spouses need to be there for one another, support and communicate in our way that is unique to military spouses and families.

Active duty members have their sponsors who know what it's like to in-process a base and unit and families should be afforded that same camaraderie. Once someone is sponsored, they pay it forward by volunteering to sponsor an inbound family.

There are many units that also have great spouse sponsorship programs including 86th Munitions Squadron and the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron.

To learn how to initiate a spouse sponsorship program in your unit, contact the A&FRC at DSN 480-5100 or commercial 06371-47-5100, or visit the KMC Spouses page at www.ramstein.af.mil/kmcspouses to find additional resources.