Sponsors are important to the military family Published Aug. 21, 2007 By Airman 1st Class Daniel Owen 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- As the 36th Wing's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Bud Andree expressed the importance of sponsorship and the "Air Force family." Chief Andree said he believes that the most important key to success in the Air Force is a strong and closely net "Air Force Family." During a recent interview, I asked the chief a few questions about the importance and benefit of sponsorship and the "Air Force family." Q: With Guam being geographically separated from the rest of the world, what would you say are some of the challenges that inbound Airmen and families face? A: First I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who welcomed my wife Jennifer and me to the base. When we arrived on island everyone was very warm and welcoming. As much as we appreciate the generosity and friendliness of everyone who met us at the airport and helped us get settled in, that shouldn't be just a "chief's welcome." This is the way every Airman should be welcomed into this base. Even though Guam is still a part of the U.S., we are geographically separated from the rest of the World. To help Airmen feel more welcome, sponsors and supervisors should meet every Airman at the airport, help them get settled into their house or dorm room, and show them around the base and island. It's important to take care of the family as well as the Airmen. Q: As for the sponsorship program, what are some ways sponsors can become involved? A: As a sponsor, you should begin to prepare for your Airman to arrive long before they ever step on a plane. Sponsors should find out if the Airman has a family, how many kids, what the needs of the family will be, and if the Airman has any special needs. Sponsors should take care of base housing, hotel and rental car arrangements so that when the Airman lands on island they have a place to stay and a way to get around the base and island. The sponsor should make the transition into a new base as smooth and trouble free as possible. Also there are certain things that inbound Airman will need for the island, such as sun screen, basic hygiene items. It would be a good idea to have a "welcome basket" in the hotel or dorm room for the Airman's first night on island. It is the sponsor's job to be the first one to extend the "olive branch." Hey, if General Owens and his wife can make time to do it, so can you! Q: Explain what extending the "olive branch" means, in your words. A: It means to be sincere in helping new Airman to feel like part of a team at work, and part of the Air Force Family the rest of the time. Sponsorship doesn't end when the Airman is safely in the dorm room or base housing. A sponsor should offer opportunities to socialize with other members of the shop and other Airmen on base. Make sure that you show the Airman and their family around the island, warn them of dangers and allow them to get involved in the base community and the island community. If I had my way, sponsorship would not end till the Airman PCSed to their next station. Q: Having been a first sergeant , do you have any advice for Andersen's first shirts? A: As a first sergeant you have access to many different resources that the average Airman doesn't. Every first shirt should make sure that the sponsors in their squadron are experienced with the sponsorship program. It's not beneficial to have a new Airman sponsoring an inbound "new" Airman. As a first sergeant you should make sure that your sponsors have been prepared with all the information, and resources needed. Make sure that the sponsor is not only focused on the Airman but also on any family the Airman may have. Check in on the progress of the sponsor prior to the arrival of the Airman, and also once the Airman is on station. Q: Chief are there any closing comments you would like to add? A: A sponsor is often the first impression an Airman receives of not only the "shop" but also the base. Being a sponsor is an important responsibility. Being a sponsor shouldn't be viewed as a "job," it should be fun and an enjoyable opportunity. A good friendship and close shop will prevent some of the basic "bad" decisions. Most of the time, if an Airman felt like they could call a co-worker or supervisor to talk about an issue, or to pick them up when a plan falls through, it would prevent "bad" decisions from being made. One of General Mosley's top three priorities for the Air Force is to "Develop and care for Airman and their families."