The Fort Bragg Directorate of Human Resources issued new guidelines defining unit level sponsorship, and what Soldiers, civilian employees and Families can do to strengthen its effectiveness.

The Fort Bragg unit level sponsorship program provides the structure and foundation for units to help prepare Soldiers, civilian employees, and Family members for a new duty station in advance of the actual arrival.

The sponsor is the essential key in providing information and support for new Soldiers, civilian employees, and Families on how to comfortably settle into a new unit.

“Unit level sponsorship basically means taking care of Soldiers and their Families,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gerard Slusser, U.S. Army Garrison, installation sponsorship coordinator. “It’s that handoff from one unit to the next, making sure that the Soldier has everything they need to make their transition go by as smooth as possible.”

A sponsor is a person of equal or higher grade as the incoming Soldier or civilian employee, and must be of the same sex, marital status and military career field. The sponsor will be familiar with the unit, its activity and the community.

All sponsors should be able to assist with questions about housing, where to find a vehicle if necessary, and what to expect to make a comfortable transition.

Being comfortably settled into a unit can allow a person to concentrate on their new duties as soon as possible.

Master Sgt. Linda Ragland, U.S. Army Garrison, installation sponsorship coordinator, stressed the importance of sponsorship and how it can positively affect Soldiers.

“Sponsorship is very important,” Ragland said. “It allows Soldiers to realize that someone is taking care of them. It gives Soldiers the chance to have their (personal) issues taken care of before they start working. Also, it gives the Soldier an idea of where they’re going and what they will be doing. When you have a smooth handoff, you typically have a better Soldier.”

Slusser agreed that a having a sponsor can aid in making a Soldier’s performance better.

“Soldiers who have sponsors may have less stressors at work,” Slusser said. “When coming into a unit with no sponsor, Soldiers tend to have a bad perception of that unit because they don’t know anyone yet.

“Also, they may have small issues that turn into big ones because they don’t have a sponsor.  After a few weeks, those issues have given them the title of the ‘problem child.’ With a sponsor, some of those issues will be addressed, which will cause less stressors for that Soldier at work and allow him/her to perform better.”

Toni Swain-Baskerbill, Fort Bragg branch chief, Personnel Reassignment Branch, said that there are two ways to increase unit sponsorship effectiveness.

“One way we can increase sponsorship is by the command getting more involved,” Swain-Baskerbill said. “The second way is education. People need to get educated on the process and benefits of sponsorship. Sponsorship genuinely provides a ready to work Soldier to a unit.”

For more information about the Fort Bragg sponsorship program, visit www.bragg.army.mil.Pages/Defautl.aspx.