Baumholder's greeter keeps it friendly
November 16, 2003
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Danna Stone, Baumholder’s in-processing greeter, doesn’t lecture. She confides. She doesn’t brief new arrivals. She visits with them.
Standing in the hallway before a tour of Baumholder’s clinic, she tells new arrivals Laree Miller and Rosita Moura why she does the long, complex in-processing without notes or a script.
“I went to college and the professor lectured. It was boring,” she says in her Texas accent. “I’d rather just be me.”
As Army posts across Europe are getting a directive from U.S. Army Europe commander Gen. B.B. Bell to make their in-processing experience similar to Baumholder’s, the element they may have the most trouble duplicating is Stone’s natural, down-homey way with folks.
Stone, 32, is intimately familiar with the hopes and fears of military spouses because she is one. A year ago, she, her husband, Sgt. Lance Stone, and their three sons left family and friends in Texas and Louisiana for their first tour overseas. Now, Lance Stone, with the 123rd Main Support Battalion, is deployed to Iraq, attached to the 1st Armored Division.
When Danna Stone, Miller and Moura talk about the travails of having deployed husbands, Stone tells them about how hers is coming home on leave. When Miller asks if she’s going to fix a big dinner, Stone laughs and says, “Are you kidding? He’s taking me out to dinner!”
By her own account, Stone is a long way from the newbie who arrived in Baumholder last November, overwhelmed by all the things she needed to know but didn’t. That didn’t keep her from applying for, and getting, the greeter’s job.
Instead of grilling her about her credentials in an interview, Susan Mitchell, Central Processing Facility director, asked Stone three questions. Did she like Germany? Did she like Army life? Did she like Baumholder? Stone said yes to all three.
The first time she had to do the briefing, Stone cried.
“One afternoon, my boss told me, ‘There’s a big bus coming. We gotta go!’ ” Stone says. “I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m still training.’ ”
Her first session was with eight families, four of whom had children.
“All I knew was, I was supposed to be friendly,” Stone says.
It was a shaky beginning that didn’t last long: “It took about a week, but I realized yeah, I can do this.”
Casual, she is. Unorganized, she’s not.
Stone’s and Mitchell’s mission is to help new families see Baumholder the way their boss, Lt. Col. Todd Buchs, 222nd Base Support Battalion commander, sees it — as one of the Army’s premiere European assignments.
When Stone found out there was no single resource reference, she went to each organization on base and compiled her own. Now, she’s a one-stop source on where to go, who to see for spouses restarting their lives, able to spiel the data for everything from Child and Youth Services to the clinic.
She’s a fount of tips that spouses can really use. For example, women coming in need to know prescriptions written in the United States don’t transfer to Europe “before they’re down to their last birth control pill,” Stone says.
But her gift may be making the exciting out of the mundane. Picking up a Red Cross pamphlet about letting people in the States send emergency messages overseas, her eyes widen as if she’s about to reveal a secret.
“THIS,” she says, “is really neat.”
— Terry Boyd