Sponsorship Program changes include ‘command ownership’

A staff sergeant greets a specialist as he arrives at his new duty location in the D.C. area. A recent revision to Army Regulation 600-8-8 has made it mandatory for Soldiers to have a sponsor before departing to a new duty station.

WASHINGTON – Changes to the Total Army Sponsorship Program will ensure Soldiers and families have appropriate transition support while relocating to new assignments. 

Under a revision to Army Regulation 600-8-8, Soldiers between the ranks of private to staff sergeant, second lieutenant to captain, and warrant officer to CW2 must be assigned sponsors at unit levels before leaving their current installations. 

While senior Soldiers can still choose to decline sponsorship, first-term Soldiers are required to have sponsors before, or upon arrival to, their next assignments, said Robert Bush, Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management program analyst.

“We do not want to leave that Soldier at high risk of not having the necessary sponsorship, which (has proven to be a deterrent) from developing risky behaviors or ending up in harm’s way,” Bush said. “The sponsorship program is not just about establishing contact. It’s about welcoming that new Soldier (and leading them) through the process of settling into the community.” 

Above all, the new expectation is for commanders to maintain full responsibility over the sponsorship program; to set local standard operating procedures to meet prescribed requirements, Bush said.

Previously, commanders could assign responsibility for the program to other individuals. The delegation authority is still permissible, but the leader is ultimately responsible for the sponsorship program.

“This is a commander’s program,” Bush emphasized. “(It) is one of those issues that has a big impact on readiness, and the expectation of it working like it should has to be directed at the leader ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of the Soldiers.”

The Army Community Service Relocation Readiness Program is the leadership team’s partner in this endeavor. At Fort Lee, the services offered by the RRP include bi-monthly newcomer’s orientations, overseas briefings, English as a second language and GED classes, a household goods lending closet and more. The office phone number is 804-734-6762.

Online training also is available for those tasked with being a sponsor. The course can be accessed through the ALMS and ATRRS portals. In the course search bar, type “Total Army Sponsorship Training.” The installation’s sponsorship liaison is Lorna King who can be contacted at 804-734-7841.