A permanent change of station – or PCS – has a lot of moving parts, lots of paperwork, and at times a lot of stress. One way that the Coast Guard is trying to alleviate some of that stress is giving members and units an opportunity to get to know each other a little bit before reporting. As human beings, we are all curious about who we serve with – how to properly say their name, where they call home, what their interests are. The New Shipmate Form allows a member to share information with her or his new unit prior to reporting.
“It can be intimidating reporting to a new unit, especially if you have a unique name and interests,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Phil Payne, the command master chief for the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Human Resources. “We originally announced the new form early this year, and with PCS season in full swing we want both units and members to be aware of the benefits of the New Shipmate Form.”
Payne says the form arose from a diverse group of various affinity group members working together with the goal to establish a way to empower junior members to communicate with their new commands. One of the examples Payne uses is communicating the proper pronunciation of a new member’s name.
“In the field we generally welcome new members to a unit during an all hands gathering,” Payne said. “Sometimes if the member reporting has a unique name, the person making the introduction might mispronounce that person’s name. If the new person tends to be on the quiet side or junior, that person may not feel comfortable correcting the commanding officer on their pronunciation. And then that person’s name is mispronounced for the duration of their tour at that unit.”
The first questions on the form is “How do you pronounce our name?” If a member fills this form out, the receiving unit should know right off the bat how to pronounce their new member’s name correctly.
Other fields on the form allows the new member to communicate some of their interests, if there is anything culturally specific a new member would like to share with their new unit.
“This is also an opportunity to share information with the new unit about who you are. This way the unit can assign you a sponsor whom you have common interests with,” Payne said. “If you are finishing up your education and you need information about the schools in the area, or if you have a family who has specific needs. This form will help the receiving unit address those interests and welcome you with more information.”
Payne also states this from is linked to the PCS Float Plan and PCS Flight Plan members use when planning their PCS move. “Yes, it is one more thing for members to fill out, but we think it will be mutually beneficial and help a new member start off in a new place at a new unit surrounded with new people,” Payne said.
The New Shipmate Form is not a requirement, rather a tool to use to help make the transition from one place to another possibly a little smoother.
Have you used the New Shipmate Form? How did it work for you? We want to hear about it. Please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.