By Katie L. Glover, USAG Bavaria Army Community Service
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The Army utilizes resiliency to make effective leaders and teams able to regroup quickly during challenges. Spouses may also utilize these tools to reduce culture shock, seek out rewarding opportunities, and embrace their tours in Europe.
Sarah Fountain-Ibison is one of these resilient and ready spouses, and she utilizes tools and resources daily to make her time in Germany remarkable.
Fountain-Ibison came to U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in winter 2017. Newly married, and completing her master’s degree, she began looking for jobs immediately, but found that it took longer than she expected. She acknowledged that during this time, she also went through a period of culture shock. After the first 45 days, she realized that she missed home.
“What Sarah experienced is very common, especially during the holidays, when people are focused on their families, it’s hard to get to know people,” said Christine Agee, a relocation readiness program specialist at USAG Bavaria Army Community Service. “The best way to get integrated is to do what Sarah did.”
Fountain-Ibison reached out to the opportunities around her, especially on post. She joined the Soldier and Family Readiness Group for her spouse’s unit — Alpha Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment — and soon after became the leader. She signed up for multiple classes at ACS, including German-as-a-Second-Language, and the Windshield Tour. She also participated in Morale, Welfare and Recreation events at the Wild B.O.A.R.
“I would also travel as much as I could, even by myself,” said Fountain-Ibison. “It got me out of the house. I think that was the biggest thing — getting out of the house!”
In spring 2018, four months into her active search for employment, she accepted a full-time position and began to feel she was a part of the community.
“Most people have a hard time connecting with groups. So having the opportunity to either start a job, or volunteer puts you into a commonality with other people through that job, or that career,” said Fountain-Ibison. “You’ve got people you can connect with a lot easier.”
Fountain-Ibison wants spouses to realize that culture shock is a normal part of the process of being away from your home and your culture. ACS offers support to spouses who want to become empowered within the community.
“There are so many opportunities to connect with people throughout the installation and making an effort to get involved with even one of them can make an amazing difference in how you feel about being here,” said Fountain-Ibison.
To assist spouses with resiliency, ACS is offering an Empowerment Series. Super Saturday is Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., focusing on tools to increase spouse readiness. Those tools are put to work at the Career and Volunteer Fair Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Both events are at the Tower View Conference Center.
“This will be a great event to find out how to make your tour the best experience you can have overseas,” said Patricia Mallard, a financial counselor at USAG Bavaria ACS who provides tips and tools for financial resiliency.
USAG Bavaria’s Army Community Service provides family advocacy, volunteer, relocation, deployment, employment and financial support services to soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and families through their offices in Rose Barracks, Tower Barracks, Hohenfels and Garmisch. Learn more at acsbavaria.checkappointments.com.
Editor’s note: This is the second in a six-part series about tools and resources available to promote empowerment and resiliency among spouses in USAG Bavaria. The first article is available here.