Have ideas on how the Department of the Army or Department of Defense can improve the quality of life for service members, DOD civilians, and their families?
If so, now is the time to submit them for the next U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Army Family Action Plan conference, to be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in the Swabian Special Events Center. Deadline to submit issues is Oct. 25.
“It’s a way to change policy … and enhance quality of life, as well as make a difference for our military members and their families,” said Lisa Ordukaya, the USAG Stuttgart AFAP manager.
Although AFAP is an Army program, the conference in USAG Stuttgart, a joint services community, will discuss issues submitted by all service members, and have volunteer delegates representing each branch of service. Everyone is encouraged to submit issues.
“Ideally we want local issues, such as facility operating hours or customer service complaints, to go through ICE,” Ordukaya said. These types of issues should be submitted through the Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE, system on the garrison website (www.stuttgart.army.mil). The goal of the AFAP conference is to brainstorm solutions for issues that can affect the entire Army family or Defense Department.
“Think broad, think big. No idea is a bad idea,” Ordukaya said. She suggested that one think of ways to improve systems and programs or enhance quality of life across the board. With budget constraints in mind, she added, “Think of how we can do things better with little to no cost.”
Potential issue topics include wounded warrior benefits, single service member quality of life, surviving family member benefits, and existing programs and services. No matter the topic, every issue submitted will be addressed by the garrison commander.
“Your quality of life issues matter, and we are going to prioritize them, and we are going to send them up to leadership,” Ordukaya said. “We want our issues to go all the way up and grab the attention of our leaders in Washington, D.C.”
Issues that cannot be resolved at the garrison level are sent to the regional AFAP conference and when applicable, on to the Department of the Army conference.
“Although our commander will review all AFAP issue submissions, our goal is to hear him say, ‘This one has to be pushed up to the regional level for resolution,’” she said. “When those issues are pushed up to the regional level, we want the same response: ‘Those issues need to go to Department of Army.’ This is where the changes can be made and implemented.”
Since AFAP was established in 1983, it has resulted in 128 legislative changes, 179 DOD or DA policy changes and 200 improved programs or services, according to DA Headquarters.
These include extending Tricare medical coverage for transitional survivor spouses, in 2010; the distribution of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to dependents, in 2009; and lodging subsistence for family members of hospitalized service members, in 2005.
In addition to submitting issues, active duty service members, reservists, retirees, civilians, family members and youth can participate in the AFAP conference by applying to be a delegate.
Delegates discuss the issues submitted, select those they believe are the most important, and propose local solutions or submit issues to a higher-level conference. Volunteers are also needed to be conference facilitators, recorders, transcribers or issue support personnel.
For more information on the USAG Stuttgart AFAP conference, call 431-2268/civ. 07031-15-2268 or email Lisa Ordukaya directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to submit your AFAP issues
Submit AFAP issues online at www.stuttgartmwr.com (click on “Army Community Service,” then “Army Family Action Plan”).
Issues can also be emailed directly to email@example.com. Please provide a title, the scope of the issue and a recommendation or two.
Hard copies of the issue forms are located in AFAP issue boxes throughout the garrison, in facilities such as post offices and in-processing facilities.