[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article previously published in June 2020]
ANSBACH, Germany (April 12, 2021) – Arriving at a new duty station before 2020 meant moving into lodging or your new quarters right away, getting your household set up and the family enrolled in available programs.
Now, troops and families arriving new to country are required to self-isolate and shelter in place for a minimum of two weeks in assigned quarters, before they can start the usual routine. Since no one is allowed to leave those quarters during that time to avoid the spread of a potential COVID-19 infection, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach (USAG Ansbach) has come up with a system of support services to make the Restriction of Movement (ROM) as easy as possible for new arrivals.
Instead of going through the In-processing Training Center (ITC) in person, personnel waiting to join their unit can now access training slides posted to the USAG Ansbach website at https://home.army.mil/ansbach/index.php/my-fort/newcomers/virtual-inprocessing-training-course
The training highlights different sections and services of USAG Ansbach that normally would have to be visited in person upon arrival.
The gaining command’s Sponsorship Liaison Officers plays a more critical role than ever, as they are the ones to act as the newcomers’ primary liaisons from start to finish of their in-processing, explained Joseph Bradley, human resource specialist for the Directorate of Human Resources (DHR).
Prior to their arrival, the Soldier’s sponsor picks up an in-processing packet at the Central Processing Facility (CPF); this process assures zero physical contact between CPF staff and Soldiers heading to ROM.
The packet includes DA Form 31 (necessary to stop-start of pay entitlements), a finance packet (which will be forwarded to the finance office for processing), orders bringing Soldiers to Ansbach and a Central Issue Facility (CIF) sizing chart (needed for CPF to schedule TA-50 issue). The CPF will make appointments for CIF, Health and Dental, and Finance coinciding with their completion of ROM.
Michael Beando, DHR director, emphasizes the importance to get to the Service members as soon as they arrive and not wait until their two weeks of ROM are over. “We don’t want to waste their time or delay their mission. This is how we support the war fighters.”
Civilians in self-isolation
The process for all types of incoming civilian employees is similar. Their supervisor becomes responsible to sponsor or arrange for sponsorship, and assist with temporary housing or lodging off post during the initial time of isolation.
During ROM and self-isolation, new community members are not allowed to enter service facilities, on-post stores or use the shuttle buses.
ACS provides ROM kits
Ansbach Army Community Services (ACS) is always offering a lending closet of basic household items for incoming personnel. In order to support ROM, Ansbach ACS has created standardized kits for different household sizes, from single Soldier to a six-person family.
Tony McIntyre, ACS coordinator, explains that the kits need to be picked up by the sponsor, who should schedule an appointment via phone at DSN 467-2883 or 09802-83-2883.
“Our kits are standardized, but can be adapted upon request,” said McIntyre. “The new arrivals can add specialty items, like a microwave, if needed.”
The list of available items includes almost anything a newcomer might need, like kitchenware, cooking utensils, dishes and silverware or an iron, which is available until the personal household goods arrive. Not included are linen and towels, which would have to be organized by the sponsor.
“We have almost everything available, from cups, plates to a child’s booster seat,” said ACS Relocation Readiness Manager Diana Stupele.
The borrowed items should be returned after 60 days; an exception can be made if household goods are delayed (please call to extend lending period). In addition, a welcome package, including brochures, magazines and maps, is offered for newcomers to read up on things to do in the area, once they are off ROM.
Ansbach Chapel offers a helping hand
The Religious Services Office of USAG Ansbach Chapels provides “Helping Hands” for the first weeks of adjusting to life in Germany. They offer Commissary gift cards for families who are struggling financially, meant to be a short-term assistance to provide necessary food items. To inquire, families can contact the RSO at the Chapel at DSN 587-1554 or 0611-143-587-1554 (587-1554).
The chapel and their volunteers are also assembling “PCS convenience kits” with items essential for the first 48 hours, which include bath soap, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher pods and other sundry items, available at Military Personnel Division (MPD) upon arrival, according to garrison chaplain Lt. Col. Sean Phillips.
PX delivers via “personal shoppers”
Ansbach Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is offering a “Personal Shopper” program to help Soldiers and families who are quarantined or under ROM on the installation. The Ansbach Exchange was the first to implement this program. They have supplemented their regular fare with many new food items.
Besides the usual fare of household items and snacks, the Exchange has added more to their merchandise inventory. “We have added frozen food, meals and entrees,” said Cary Zottolo, store manager, Ansbach Urlas Main Exchange. “We provide all the basics; our products and services are meant to be a ‘taste from home’ for our customers. All they need to do is send us an email with a contact phone number, and we will call them back.”
Customers in isolation or ROM on post can use the firstname.lastname@example.org email address for all communications regarding orders. A short email with the person’s name and contact phone number is required. Deliveries are made on post only by two-person teams; personal shopper hours of service are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on the weekends.
Items available for purchase are limited to what is physically on hand. Telephonic orders will be gathered and rung up by the employees, then paid for by the customer over the phone via credit card, with security measures implemented. As long as the individual is quarantined or in self-isolation, AAFES will deliver to the customer’s doorstep, ring the bell, and confirm delivery from a distance. If the individual is in the barracks, the delivery is left with the Charge of Quarters (CQ)/sponsor or other designated person.
American Red Cross and DeCA cooperate in volunteer shopper program
The Ansbach commissary cooperates with the Ansbach American Red Cross in a volunteer-based program called “Agent Shopping Program.” Leigh Iles, the Ansbach American Red Cross station manager, came up with the idea after returning from an emergency trip to the U.S. “I had to self-isolate for two weeks after coming home, and had to rely on others for buying my groceries; two weeks is just too long to go without fresh produce. Then I thought, I have friends I can ask, but what about the people who are brand new here and don’t know anybody, or who are too shy to ask?“
Iles started coordinating with the Ansbach Commissary and worked out a system based on the help of volunteer shoppers. The volunteers take orders from housebound residents via phone and do the shopping for them. Once the order is rung up, a designated DeCA employee will call the customer for credit card information to pay for the order; the volunteer will not have access to that information. After payment, the volunteer delivers groceries to the residence of the customer. To sign up for this program, community members can contact the Ansbach American Red Cross at DSN 467-2136 or 09802-83-2136.