Commanders focus on family issues
May 23, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (May 23, 2013) -- Fort Sill senior commanders believe in discussing issues raised at the Army Family Action Plan face-to-face so they held the first Reverse AFAP May 17 at the Graham Resiliency Training Campus.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, and Col. Paul Hossenlopp, garrison commander, invited the 2012 AFAP delegates, conference volunteers, subject matter experts, command representatives and community members to the Reverse AFAP to discuss the status of issues that were briefed during the 2012 AFAP conference.
"We are here to tell you what we've done about the issues you brought before us and in some cases we'll tell why we are not going to be able to fix it or that it has to be elevated to a higher command for resolution. Whatever the case, we are going to walk you through all the issues and what is being done so I think this is a great thing," said McDonald.
"That's what this Reverse AFAP is all about to demonstrate we're doing something about the issues you put in front of us," said Hossenlopp. "You boiled the issues down to the top eight issues you wanted the CG and I to take a hard look at. We didn't want to stop at the top eight so we looked at the 50 you thought were important enough to brief at the AFAP. A couple of them were redundant but that's OK because we combined them."
Hossenlopp also chairs the executive committee or the quarterly Installation Action Council (AIC), which considers and prioritizes AFAP issues and concerns that affect the Fort Sill community. The IAC determines the responsible action agency and recommends changes in order to solve the issue.
The council rates the issue status in one of five ways:
* Active issues with an action plan and in the working phase of resolution.
* Combined issues that are incorporated into another active issue because they have the same objective.
* Elevated issues that are elevated to higher headquarters.
* Completed issue is resolved; recommendation or "best solution attained."
* Unattainable the issue cannot be resolved at this time because of an absence of resources.
All issues remain active until the IAC DA headquarers determine the issue should be elevated, completed combined or unattainable. After a three-year hold, completed or unattainable issues may be addressed again.
McDonald told the attendees that although funding is tight at the moment with furloughs and sequestration, the command is doing what they can.
"We may have slowed down because of the money but we've got the best resource office in the Army and they'll get the money for those programs we have to keep and fund," he said.
Some of the issues that have been resolved locally include:
* Prompt access to primary medical care for patients and too long a waiting time for appointments. It has been resolved through hiring additional staff and educating Soldiers and family members on appointment policies.
* Family members not receiving notification about newcomers' orientation when they arrive at a new duty station. It has been resolved through appointing sponsors who notify family members regarding the newcomers' orientation through the sponsor and sponsorship program.
* Advocacy services for victims of sexual assault. It has been resolved through hiring additional SHARP staff and civilian victim advocates who are currently receiving training on prevention strategies and responding to sexual assaults.
* Soldier fees for post concerts. McDonald addressed this issue by telling the audience the annual summer concert is the biggest fundraiser for Family and MWR and that money goes into all the quality of life programs here on post.
"Although we can't cut the fees for that concert, as funding allows, free concerts are provided for Soldiers and their families."
* Diabetics not being allowed to use child care services. The Special Needs Accommodation Process (SNAP) addresses childcare placement and care for children with special needs. In most situations, children will be placed in and cared for in CYSS programs, to include children with diabetes. However, if it is determined CYSS is unable to meet the child's needs, the families are referred to additional resources and programs.
* Equal opportunity for males to play soccer because there is a partnership with off-post leagues for an only-female soccer club. The resolution is an all male soccer club has been established.
Other issues that have been resolved include new identification labels implemented at the CYSS facilities, price matching at the Class 6 Store to ensure the lowest price on all items, education on the recycling program currently in place for on-post housing and recycling receptacles, the traffic light at Mow-Way and Fort Sill Boulevard has been removed so it won't interrupt positive traffic flow, and a variety of ways to get information on the Exceptional Family Member program mandatory enrollment through multiple medias including websites, written documents, briefings and social media.
McDonald closed the Reverse AFAP by telling the delegates to encourage others to get involved in the AFAP.
"It is how you can effect change to make this installation and community a better place with a good quality of life," he said.
"Our senior commanders believe in and are serious about the Army Family Action Plan process," said Merilee Nevins, AFAP and Army Family Team Building program manager. "Usually, the status of issues are just posted in the newspaper, our senior commanders however, believe in a more hands-on approach. The Reverse AFAP was created because they wanted to personally share what the Installation Action Council has discussed and the resolutions that have been put in place."
According to Nevins, the IAC meets quarterly and has been working extremely hard to find resolutions for the issues presented at the last AFAP conference. "Only seven issues of the original 49 are left to discuss," she said. "The Reverse AFAP was a unique and awesome experience and based on the positive feedback we have received from the participants, the plan is to make the Reverse AFAP an annual event."
They are gearing up for the 2013 AFAP conference which will be held in late October. Soldiers, retirees, family members, and DA civilians are encouraged to submit quality of life issues and concerns through the Army One Source website or the AFAP containers, which will be located throughout the Fort Sill community starting in June, said Nevins.