ANSBACH, Germany (April 15, 2021) – Each summer, Army installations across the world say good-bye to a portion of their population and hello to new Soldiers and Family members arriving for their tour of duty.
A PCS (Permanent Change of Station) is stressful for most but moving overseas contributes to that stress; add in COVID-19 restrictions to it and the stress levels rise even higher. The Ansbach Chapel community has created PCS Support bags for new arrivals to the community to alleviate some of that stress.
“We had this vision last year when PCS season kind of changed because of COVID and there was a need for immediate comfort items,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Sean Phillips, head chaplain, USAG Ansbach. “We decided to put together those initial things that family might need in the first 48 hours.”
The support bags contain supplies such as paper towels, hand soap, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent. The items were paid for using the money gathered from tithes and offerings at the chapel.
“The idea was to get the news out about the chapel and to help the sponsors to not have to provide so much for the Soldiers coming in and the Soldiers to have what they need for the first few days so they don’t have to stress so much,” said Julie Broam, chapel volunteer and wife of Col. John Broam, commander, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. “It’s the cleaning items they forget when they place their grocery order so providing that helps take that stress off.”
Right now, anyone moving to Germany has to quarantine for 10 days per German ordinance. The Soldiers and their Families are put right into their quarters with temporary furniture versus lodging as was done pre-COVID.
“This year the same thing is happening (as last year), so we are giving that initial comfort kit when they have something for the first 48 hours until their sponsor can fully support and engage with them to get what they need,” said Phillips. “They’ve been traveling a long time, they have a tough PCS move but now they have something where they can go to bed and they know they have these immediate needs taken care of.”
The support bags are kept at the Military Personnel Division (MPD), where individual sponsors can pick them up in advance of the Soldier’s arrival to Ansbach.
“The sponsor goes to MPD to get a care kit and it is one less thing the sponsor has to do,” said Phillips. “They (the sponsor) will have that engagement, find out what the needs are and what kind of food and shopping they need to do while they (the inbound Soldier and Family) are restricted.”
Last year the Chapel created 230 bags which according to Phillips were very well received. This year chapel volunteers built 150 bags with the plan to build more if needed.
“It just really makes me feel good because you know you are supporting those people coming in, and you want them to have the best experience possible arriving here in Germany,” said Broam. “Since it is a foreign country, it is new to a lot of people, so it is a way to make sure that people arriving here understand that somebody cares and this going to be a great tour once they get out of quarantine.”
Story and photos by Dani Johnson