Sponsoring sailors for success simple at Atsugi
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves can often Photo Illustration by MC2 Kegan E. Kay be daunting and challenging. For this reason the Navy has promoted the concept of sponsorship throughout the fleet.
For Sailors aboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, becoming a sponsor is not only easy, but can be completed in less than two hours at the Fleet and Family Service Center (FFSC).
“This is an important program. When our Sailors are leave this brief, they’re prepared to help the next wave of Sailors coming to [NAF] Atsugi,” said FFSC Sponsorship Program Director Maria Moore. “In two hours I’m able to teach and explain how to help calm the nerves and prepare everyone from first tour Sailors to the salty master chiefs for their arrival here in Japan.”
The brief, which is held monthly at FFSC, covers all the things a sponsor is required to do before and after the prospective member arrives.
“This was hugely helpful for me as a first time sponsor,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Steven Morones, of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 51. “I didn’t have a very good sponsor when I first came to Atsugi, so to be able to go through the class now means I’m going to have the chance to set someone else up for success.”
It’s important for all Sailors to be knowledgeable and aware of what the process is for helping an incoming Sailor be prepared, Moore added.
The biggest hurdle to overcome before the prospective member arrives is housing, according to NAF Atsugi Assistant Housing Manager Ron Singer.
“It’s important that we know when someone is coming in, because when they get here, we need to make sure there’s a place for them to sleep,” said Singer. “The thing we stress most to our customers is if their Sailor isn’t going to be staying in the barracks, they need to get a statement of non-availability from Unaccompanied Housing in Building 1290. From there we can get the member set up in either the towers or at the Navy Lodge.”
If a member is going to be coming to the Navy Lodge, it’s important to make a reservation for the incoming member as soon as possible, added Navy Lodge General Manager Michelle Wicker.
“I can’t count how many times we’ve had Sailors just show up saying they’re in need of a room to stay in because their sponsor wasn’t able to get their paperwork done ahead of time,” said Wicker. “This means the member has to pay upfront and that can often be an expensive route to go.”
The Navy will reimburse a Sailor for up to 60 days through a program called temporary lodging assistance (TLA), whereby a member pays the costs upfront and turns in all receipts and expenses to their Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) for verification, submission and reimbursement.
According to Moore, it is important that people tell their incoming Sailors that they shouldn’t bring many, if any, of their house hold goods or pets.
“Japanese houses are smaller than the average house in the U.S. and many don’t allow animals,” said Moore. “That means that your eight person couch and Lazy Boy recliner isn’t going to fit through the Japanese doors.”
The NAF Atsugi housing office recommends leaving all major items like washing machines and dishwashers back home in the states, as they’re often too big and to fit into a traditional Japanese home.
It’s the same for on-base housing, Singer added.
The apartments and townhomes come equipped with standard washing machines and dryers and where furniture is concerned; it’s advised that it wait Stateside until all housing paperwork is finalized.
“Many people bring most if not all their stuff here to Japan, and I always ask why,” said Singer. “The response is often because they didn’t know not to and that’s a problem. People need to know that once they’re here and their settled in their home, then it’s a good idea to start bringing stuff over, but before then it’s going to spend a lot of time in storage bins.”
It’s also important to the Navy that its Sailors are being well taken care of, adds Moore.
“There’s this concept that in the first 72 hours, a Sailor will basically make up his or her mind about their new command,” said Moore. “That’s literally the most critical time for the sponsors to be both active and energetic with their Sailors, getting them out to see Japan and all it has to offer really will make a night and day difference.”
I have no doubt that with a strong and knowledgeable sponsor, it would have been so much less stress for me and my family in trying to get to Japan and then get out on the town, said Morones.
“It’s so important that the sponsors we’re training here are ready to help their relief,” said Moore. “Without the sponsors here to help guide and direct their Sailors in what they do, and don’t need before coming over here, there would be so much more confusion and frustration in trying to get established here, I’m sure.”