Have any ideas for improving the quality of life for service members and their families? Now is the time to submit them for the next Army Family Action Plan conference in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.
Issues are due by Jan. 14, 2011, and will be discussed during the AFAP conference, to be held Feb. 10-11 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Swabian Special Events Center on Patch Barracks.
“It’s a way to change policy, create policy [and] enhance policy and quality of life for Soldiers and their families,” said Lisa Ordukaya, 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.
Community members can participate by identifying issues in which they see room for improvement in the military community, and submitting these on issue cards using AFAP issue boxes located throughout the garrison, at facilities such as post offices and Army and Air Force Exchange Services. They are also available online at www.stuttgartmwr.com.
Ordukaya emphasized that submitting an AFAP issue is not another way to address local issues, such as facility operating hours or customer service complaints. Issues such as these should be addressed to facility managers or submitted through the Interactive Customer Evaluation system on the garrison website (www.stuttgart.army.mil), she said.
“In doing that, they can get their issue resolved a whole lot quicker than trying to tie it up in an AFAP issue,” she added. “They’ll get immediate results with ICE because [managers] have to respond in 72 hours.”
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.
Potential issue topics include Wounded Warrior benefits, single Soldier quality of life, and surviving family member benefits. Some installations may have “best practices” that can be made available to others through AFAP, she added.
Issues that cannot be resolved at the garrison level are sent to the regional AFAP conference and on to the Department of the Army conference, when applicable.
“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 117 legislative changes, 162 DoD or DA policy changes and 178 improved programs or services, according to the Department of the Army Headquarters.
These include the distribution of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to dependents in 2009 and extending TRICARE medical coverage for transitional survivor spouses in 2010.
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 either propose a local solution or submit to a higher-level conference with a proposed resolution.
Community members can also register to volunteer as a conference facilitator, recorder, transcriber, or issue support person.
For more information on AFAP issues submitted to the Department of the Army for action, visit www.myarmyonesource.com, and click on “Family Programs,” then the AFAP issue link.
For more information on the USAG Stuttgart AFAP conference, call 431-3643/civ. 07031-15-3643.