Service members from all branches, family members, civilians and contractors from the Stuttgart military community came together to discuss ways to improve quality of life during the Army Family Action Plan Conference, held on Patch Barracks Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
Before the conference, Army Community Service solicited issues submitted by Stuttgart military community members. ACS then split volunteers into delegate groups that discussed and prioritized the submissions. A total of four delegate groups were created, which included two family groups, one military group and one youth group. The groups were given topics that pertained to their areas, and they spent a day discussing the issues that were submitted. On the second day of the conference, the groups presented their top issues to U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Commander Col. John Stack and guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Mark Barrett, the U.S. European Command chief of staff.
Forty-one issues were submitted for the conference, many of which could be corrected locally, but nine were chosen to be escalated to Installation Management Command Headquarters and possibly the Department of Defense for action.
“I’m really impressed by the issues that were turned in and how they were presented,” said Stack, after the briefing. “These are things that affect all of us and deserve to be addressed.” Since AFAP was established in 1983, it has resulted in 128 legislative changes, 179 Defense Department or DA policy changes and 200 improved programs or services, according to DA Headquarters. One recent notable policy change, initiated at an AFAP conference in 2009, was the revamping of the Montgomery GI Bill to include benefits to dependents. Issues submitted from all European garrisons will be reviewed at an Installation Management Command-Europe AFAP Conference to be held in late spring 2013. “We want our issues to go all the way up the chain,” said Lisa Ordukaya, AFAP coordinator. “It would be awesome to see something that started as an idea here be a catalyst for change across DOD.