Army Unit Sponsorship Program: How to Do It Right

In this post, I want to share with you some tips on how to have a successful Army Unit Sponsorship Program in your National Guard or Army Reserve unit.  I’m not going to quote any regulations here.  This advice is from personal experience with what I have seen done right and what I have seen done wrong when it comes to Unit Sponsorship.  While this information is geared toward First Sergeants and Company Commanders, I truly believe any small unit leader can follow this advice and achieve success.

Whenever a new Soldier appears on the UMR, the Readiness NCO should contact the Soldier or S1/Recruiter to verify that the information is correct.  Next, the Readiness NCO should assign a Unit Sponsor for that Soldier.  The Unit Sponsor has the responsibility of contacting the Soldier prior to their first drill weekend to let them know when drill weekend is, what the uniform is, and what training is scheduled.

Listed below you will find a checklist of what the Unit Sponsor should do with the new Soldier during their first three drill weekends.  I’ve found it best to have a Unit Sponsor be the same rank as the new Soldier, but you can also have their supervisor be their sponsor.

Month 1:

  • Help the unit establish a personnel file for the Soldier
  • Ensure Soldier has OCIE and TA-50 (also includes assigned weapon and gas mask)
  • Introduce Soldier to the Command Team and their Section
  • Ensure Soldier has a drill schedule and training calendar
  • Give Soldier a copy of all Unit SOPs
  • Ensure Soldier has adequate housing (place to stay outside of drill weekend)
  • Interview the Soldier to identify personal goals, strengths, problems and shortcomings

Month 2:

  • Conduct APFT during 2nd drill weekend with new unit
  • Conduct Driver’s Training and Licensing
  • Review Soldier’s NCOES/OES and status of military and civilian education
  • Review/Create Family Care Plan if applicable
  • Answer any questions the Soldier may have

Month 3:

  • Follow-up as needed

I think this checklist is a pretty good starting point.  By all means feel free to elaborate and create additional steps.

If you are a Company Commander or First Sergeant, I think it would be in your best interest to create a Unit Sponsorship SOP for your unit.  Create a 3-4 page document that outlines the steps the assigned Unit Sponsor will follow.  Make a simple checklist they can use (like I have above) to make sure the process is standardized, simple and thorough.

I believe you owe it your new Soldiers to help them get started right!  The only way to do that is to have an effective Unit Sponsorship Program and to make it a top priority.

What are your thoughts about having a successful Unit Sponsorship Program?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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6 thoughts on “Army Unit Sponsorship Program: How to Do It Right”

  1. Great tips, Chuck!! A new soldiers’ first few drill weekends will be a determining factor in how his military career is shaped. The support he or she gets to get them situated and ease their fears. The sooner a new soldier gets comfortable with his new squad and his leader and starts to set goals and put a career plan in place the better. It will help to keep him focused and on track. These tips sound simple, but will go a long way in helping a leader reach out to his new soldiers and do just that.

  2. These are great points Chuck. So many soldiers are just thrown in blindly and this is where problems develop. A past post talked about discipline problems in guard and reserve units. I believe just throwing a new soldier in creates the impression of a discipline problem, when it just could be ignorance to how the unit operates. by following the system you laid out, I believe a unit will have a good reputation.

  3. Nice insight, Chuck. I like your angle here of including your own experience and input rather than just what the regs say. I think that this is extremely important as it establishes an SOP for your unit and ensures important objectives don’t get pushed to the side due to other training and such. I know our unit struggles to get Soldiers licensed on the Stryker platform when they show up to the unit…

    1. Inprocessing and squaring away new Soldiers is very hard to do and time consuming, especially with the 100 other things going on. That’s where a good SOP and command emphasis can make all the difference.

      1. Something I was thinking about last night was the possibility to do an ANNUAL program rather than month to month. I just think that month to month allows for too much variability in the drill schedule and won’t be adhered to. I would say that an ANNUAL approach would be best. Set aside one IDT period for which you knock out the majority of those objectives (i.e. licensing and such…PT test and TA-50 obviously have to take place ASAP). When a Soldier shows up to the unit they will wait until the established date to do their licensing and other objectives…

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