Welcome Letter

Welcome Letter



Dear Railgunner,

We would like to congratulate you on your selection for assignment to the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany! Welcome to the Railgunner Family and we are excited to receive you! It is our intent to make your transition as smooth as possible.

Prior to arrival, you will be assigned a Sponsor, please ensure you provide a good way to get in contact with you. Please visit the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria webpage for more information. Topics range from vehicle shipment, driver's license requirements, housing, and more.

Within the 41st Field Artillery Brigade welcome packet and page, you will find useful information that will guide you prior to your arrival, during your arrival, and settling in. Please ensure you get a head start on the five things below for smooth transition to the organization:

  1. Command Sponsorship. Ensure dependents are eligible for a fully-funded move overseas.
  2. Passports & Visas. Learn which travel documents are required before PCSing overseas.
  3. Hotel Reservations. On-post lodging is in short supply. Do not wait for orders to reserve lodging!
  4. Overseas P.O. Box. Keep up-to-date with your mail by setting up your P.O. Box ahead of time.
  5. CYSS & School Registration. Be ahead of the class and start your CYSS and school packets now.

General Information

General Information


Germany Tour Length Policy

In accordance with ALARACT 042/2019 - Change to overseas tour lengths for certain locations in Europe and Japan:

Unaccompanied tour lengths (24 months) for Soldiers assigned to locations in Europe and Japan will increase to 36 months.

All first-term and career Soldiers who have no dependents, are not married to other service members, and are on a PCS orders serve a 36 month tour.



5 Things to Get Started on Right Away

  1. Command Sponsorship. Ensure dependents are eligible for a fully-funded move overseas.
  2. Passports & Visas. Learn which travel documents are required before PCSing overseas.
  3. Hotel Reservations. On-post lodging is in short supply. Don’t wait for orders to reserve lodging!
  4. Overseas P.O. Box. Keep up-to-date with your mail by setting up your P.O. Box ahead of time.
  5. CYSS & School Registration. Be ahead of the class and start your CYSS and school packets now.



5 Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Storing & Shipping HHG. Learn to split your HHG into various shipments to get settled in sooner.
  2. Driving Overseas. Know what to expect when shipping your POV overseas.
  3. Electricity Overseas. Stay current on German vs. U.S. electricity.
  4. Traveling with Pets. Moving pets overseas is at your own expense, but we can help prepare you.
  5. Cell Phones & Staying in Touch. Learn about cell phones & staying in touch while overseas.
Command Sponsorship

Command Sponsorship


In simple terms, Command Sponsorship means that Family members are approved to accompany Soldier Outside the Continental U.S. (OCONUS) for the length of his or her tour. Command Sponsorship of dependents is not guaranteed. However, Soldier must apply for Command Sponsorship, which includes an EFMP Screening of each family member, and then obtain approval from Soldier’s gaining command in Europe prior to traveling overseas with family.



Am I Command Sponsored?

After applying for Command Sponsorship, PCS orders will include or amended to address the following:

Accompanied Tour (with dependents): Means Command Sponsorship is approved for family and SM is eligible for a fully-funded move overseas as well as for other benefits. The full name of each Command Sponsored dependent must be listed on assignment orders. Orders will indicate type of dependent travel:

  • Concurrent travel (with or within 60 days of Soldier)
  • Deferred travel (61 or more days after Soldier)

Unaccompanied Tour (without dependents): An unaccompanied tour means that Command Sponsorship of dependents is denied. Denial of Command Sponsorship is often due to a duty station location with limited family resources or insufficient support for dependents with special needs.

What benefits does command sponsorship provide?

Only Command Sponsored dependents are authorized:

  • No-Fee Passport.
  • Travel: Soldier receives travel allowances and reimbursements for Command Sponsored family.
  • Cost of Living: Soldier receives special overseas allowances at a higher “with dependent” rate.
  • HHG Shipment: Soldier receives a higher “with dependent” weight allowance for household goods.
  • Housing Eligibility.
  • Attendance at DoDEA schools (non-Command sponsored children may attend if space is available).
  • Access to on post services and facilities such as postal service, Commissary, PX, & health clinic.
  • Employment: Dependents must be Command Sponsored to apply for employment on post.




After receiving a Request for Orders (RFO) or actual assignment orders, Soldier should immediately request Command Sponsorship of each dependent. Family members will complete an EFMP screening as part of the application. Family members must be granted Command Sponsorship before traveling overseas.

1. Attend Levy Brief & Start Packet

Before PCS orders are issued, Soldier must schedule to attend a levy brief. The levy brief is where most Soldiers start the Command Sponsorship application for their dependents. Levy briefs provide instructions for PCSing and cover topics such as:

  • Command Sponsorship application process.
  • No-Fee Passport.
  • Overseas travel/pay allowances.
  • Booking travel.
  • Shipping household goods (HHG) & vehicles.
  • PCSing with kids or pets.

2. Complete EFMP Screening

Before your family can be approved for Command Sponsorship, each family member must complete an EFMP Screening of their medical records to ensure that new unit can support family’s needs. This process can take up to 90 days, so start right away!

3. Review PCS Orders

If Command Sponsorship of your family is approved, review PCS orders to:

  • Ensure each dependent’s name is listed correctly.
  • Check if family travel is deferred or concurrent.

Command Sponsorship Packet

  1. PCS Orders.
  2. DA 4187 Command Sponsorship Request Form.
  3. Enlisted or Officer Record Brief (ERB or ORB).
  4. DA 5888 Family EFMP Form with EFMP Stamp (or DA 5888-1 if in remote area requiring civilian doctor).
    o DD 2792 (if Medical EFMP Plan needed).
    o DD 2792-1 + IFSP/IEP (if Education EFMP Plan needed).
    NOTE: EFMP Form is valid for 1 year once stamped.
  5. Copy of Marriage and Birth Certificates of dependents.
  6. Proof of child custody court documents (Minors must reside with Soldier a minimum of six months per year).
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)


EFMP Screening Overview


As part of the Command Sponsorship application packet, dependents are each required to complete an Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Screening.

What is EFMP?

The objective of the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is to assess, document, and code the special education and medical needs of family members. Approximately 10% of Army Families have members with special needs, including spouses, children, or dependent parents who require special services.

Why do I need an EFMP Screening?

Soldiers requesting accompanied tours overseas, extensions of more than 6 months of an overseas accompanied tour, or consecutive overseas assignments must have all family members screened for any special medical or educational needs.

Why? As the Army shifts resources overseas, the Army wants to ensure Soldiers are assigned to locations where dependents with special needs can receive necessary care. When reviewing a family member’s needs, the Army often considers the availability of services from the host nation as well as those provided by the Army.

Need help navigating the process?

Visit EFMP staff at ACS or your Military Health Clinic.

Contact your local Army Community Services (ACS) EFMP Systems Navigator or your military health clinic’s EFMP Coordinator to help you with enrollment, disenrollment, updates, and overseas EFMP screenings.

Review EFMP Screening guide.

Visit Army Medical Command for an overview of how the EFMP process works in the below situations:

  • Soldiers located on or near Army post in U.S.
  • Families in remote areas in U.S.
  • Soldier is overseas but family is in U.S.



EMFP Screening Process



What are the EFMP Screening steps?

At your appointment, the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) practitioner will review your screening questionnaire, outpatient medical records, and any supporting documentation to determine if any family member meets criteria for enrollment into EFMP.

  1. Soldier starts Command Sponsorship at levy brief.
    o Soldier completes DA-5888 (Part A) and submits form to S1 who verifies dependent information.
    o S1 returns DA-5888 to Soldier.
  2. Schedule Screening within 30 days of levy brief.
  3. For each dependent, bring to the Screening:
    o DA-5888 Form, verified and signed by S1
    o All military and civilian health records o Completed DA Form 7246 EFMP Questionnaire
    o Recent physical exam (within the last year)
    o For children, bring copies of any non-medical evaluations to include any IEP (Individual Education Plan) or IFSP (if applicable)
    o For children 4-60 months, bring completed Ages and Stages Questionnaire
  4. Only an Army EFMP practitioner completes DA Form 5888 Part B, to be sent for review.

NOTE: If any family member meets enrollment criteria, the enrollment process will be initiated. The enrollment process could take up to 6 weeks.

What happens after the Screening?

Review of your Soldier’s request for an accompanied tour with dependents can take a few weeks up to 3 months.

Authorization for Command Sponsorship

Once your family is approved to accompany your Soldier overseas, your Soldier will be issued amended PCS Orders to include each dependent’s name. Next, each dependent must apply for a No-Fee Passport. An accompanied tour overseas requires a 36-month commitment.

Denial of Command Sponsorship

If your Soldier is denied an accompanied tour with dependents, he or she can choose from 3 main options:

  • Request to change assignments (DA Form 4187)
  • Change overseas assignment to “all others”, meaning a 24-month tour without dependents
  • Proceed overseas alone & in 6 months submit new Command Sponsorship Request (may be denied again)

Without Command Sponsorship, dependents (unless they are EU citizens) will be considered to be tourists limited to 90 days in country with very little support authorized from the US Army. If you are denied command sponsorship but you still plan to move overseas, you are responsible for all travel and living expenses associated with your move.

Passports & Visas

Passports & Visas

Once family members are approved for Command Sponsorship and Soldier’s PCS Orders includes each dependent’s name, immediately apply for a No-Fee Passport for each dependent.


No-Fee Passport

Prior to traveling, dependents who are U.S. citizens must apply for a No-Fee Passport at TMO or the Passport Office on post. Documents must be original or certified. (NonU.S. citizens must apply for a country of origin passport.) Bring:

  • Military ID Card & PCS Orders
  • ORB/ERB (newborn passports)
  • Soldier’s ID (back/front copy)
  • DS-11 or DS-82 (w/ passport)
  • Birth, Naturalization or Citizenship Certificate
  • Name Change Documents (Marriage/Divorce decrees)
  • 1 Recent Passport Photo
  • Current & Expired Passports
  • Both parents must be present or have a notarized DS-3053

Process can take 8 or more weeks.

Tourist Passport

With a U.S. Tourist Passport you are allowed to stay no more than 90 days in Germany. Tourist Passports are required for leisure travel outside of your host nation. Apply for a Tourist Passport prior to leaving the U.S. (apply off post).

NOTE: Use your No-Fee Passport + Visa to travel between your host nation & U.S. That’s what it’s for!

Visit www.travel.state.gov for:

Book Travel & Lodging

Book Travel & Lodging



Temporary Lodging Reservations

Your family must make reservations for 2 types of temporary lodging when getting ready to PCS overseas:

  • OCONUS lodging in Grafenwoehr (TLA)
  • CONUS lodging prior to departing (TLE)

Outside the Continental U.S. (OCONUS) Lodging

On-post lodging at Army Lodging Grafenwoehr books up fast! You can make reservations without PCS Orders up to 6 months in advance. Because on-post lodging is limited, most families will stay in off-post local hotels.

Sponsors can make initial reservation on your behalf, but your family must provide credit card information to Army Lodging or local hotel to secure the reservation. Book your room for 35-45 days.

Continental U.S. (CONUS) Lodging

If you’re traveling from the U.S., don’t forget to book stateside lodging. You’ll get reimbursed for 5 days of temporary lodging in government quarters based on your per diem rate. Try to plan your move-out date so you avoid paying out of pocket for additional nights in a hotel.

Learn about financial assistance and travel allowances for details.

Flight Reservations (Concurrent Travel)

Soldiers can book family’s flight if the below criteria are met, otherwise Soldier will head to Germany and dependents will travel within 60 days (if not possible, get orders amended to “deferred travel” ASAP).

  • Dependents are Command Sponsored.
  • Dependents have No-Fee Passport.
  • Family housing is available overseas.
  • If you’re traveling with children, be sure to ask your transportation coordinator on post (or commercial airline) about which kind of items can be carried onto the plane, such as strollers, pack-n-plays, and car seats.

NOTE ABOUT ARRIVAL: Most flights arrive in Ramstein, and from there you will have a free shuttle to Grafenwoehr.

NOTE ABOUT PETS: Remember that arranging and paying for pet travel is your responsibility. Pet travel expenses are not reimbursed. Learn more about PCSing with pets.

Definitely bring snacks on your flight, and also bring:

  • Medical, dental, and school records.
  • Important family documents, esp. birth & marriage.
  • Pet documentation, pet food and supplies.
  • Contact info for your overseas sponsor, hotel, etc.
  • International adapters (great for overseas layovers).
  • Kids favorite PJs, clothes, toys, games, books.


Army Lodging Grafenwoehr

Guest Services:

  • Queen beds
  • Queen pullout couches
  • Cable TV
  • High speed internet access: free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
  • Refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker
  • Built-in kitchen

Pets are welcome at Grafenwoehr Lodging. Cost $3 per day per pet. There is an additional one-time, non refundable deep cleaning fee of $50. No more than two dogs or two cats, or a combination thereof, are allowed. Be sure to contact the hotel for more information.

Make a reservation ASAP - even WITHOUT orders

  • Who: Soldier, Soldier’s sponsor, or spouse can make a reservation (credit card info needed on file to confirm reservation).
  • What: To make your reservation email the Inn with Soldier’s name, arrival date, number of people, ages and number of kids (if any), pets (if any), and contact info.
  • When: Make reservations up to 6 months in advance without PCS Orders (orders needed at check in). The Inn recommends making reservations for 45 days. Most families stay in a hotel for 30-35 days before moving into a home.
  • How much: Soldiers will not need to submit paperwork for reimbursement of simple hotel fees because you are staying in government lodging on post and will not be billed. However you are responsible for paying pet or other fees incurred.



Off-Post Lodging Overseas

Off-Post Lodging near Tower Barracks

Most families will need to book overseas lodging at a local hotel due to limited space at Army Lodging. The following hotels are recommended by Army Lodging, and remember to keep in mind:

  • Reserve your room for at least 45 days
  • Book a room at or below your TLA rate so you don’t pay any money out of pocket
  • Hotel pet fees are not reimbursable
  • For a complete list, call or visit Army Lodging, Grafenwoehr