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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.