FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Communication is the No. 1 issue to come out of this year's Army Community Service focus groups.

The meetings, which took place June 25-27 at the Family Readiness Center, were an opportunity for Fort Carson Soldiers and Families to tell ACS what's working and what's not.

"We struggle with it, (letting people know) where to go for information," said Kristen Kea, Warrior Family Community Partnership manager for ACS. "In the next year, we'll continue to work on the marketing component for ACS, and how people get information."

For the last year, ACS has worked to make more information available online through social media sites, such as Facebook. But few of the focus group attendees said they went to those sites for information.

"In this day and age of social media, they still like information to be available through bulletin boards and face-to-face contact," Kea said.

"I always know what's happening with BOSS, but never with ACS," a Soldier in one of the groups commented.

Solving some of those communication issues will take time, but other changes are being made immediately.

On the ACS webpage, information on upcoming events and classes is available under event calendars, Kea said.

The more complex issues will go to the different program managers.

"We take the feedback we get from the focus groups and package it as an overall summary, then take it to the ACS program managers," she said. "They gauge what changes they should be making and set next year's goals, whether it's new program development or making tweaks in how they get the information out."

One of the difficulties they face in communicating about different programs is differentiating who gets what information. It's important to make sure people get the information they need without being bombarded with information they don't.

"ACS is diverse with lots of different programs," Kea said. "How do you make sure survivors get information on Survivor Outreach Services and not on parenting programs they may not need?"

One positive that came out of the groups is that, overall, people are pleased with the programs offered through ACS.

"Nobody said that we didn't have the right mix of programs," she said. "Of the people who are attending the programs and attending the classes, all are really satisfied with the quality of the programs, the quality of the instructors and the information coming across."

While some people are taking advantage of the services offered by ACS, others may not see it as a place that can help them.

"There's a general misconception that ACS is more of a family organization, but there are single Soldiers who would benefit from programs like financial readiness," one attendee said.

Other people see it as just a place to come when you're in financial trouble.

"You still fight a stigma problem that ACS is a place where you go to get help," Kea said. "That's just not the case. ACS is about programs that connect you to the community. … I think the people who attended the focus groups walked away with a better understanding of the breadth and variety of our programs. We'll continue working on perceptions, so that all Army Families understand the strength and the variety of our programs."

Page last updated Wed July 3rd, 2013 at 12:59