AFAP gives community a voice
September 12, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 12, 2013) -- Recognizing an issue is the first step to correcting it, and one of the ways the Army listens to its community members' issues is through the Army Family Action Plan.
People can submit issues now to be addressed at a local-level AFAP conference at the Wings Chapel Oct. 16-17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., where groups will discuss and review those issues, according to Shellie Kelly, Army Community Service Army Family Team Building and AFAP program manager.
"The Army Family Action Plan exists to give a voice to every member of the total Army Family," said Kelly. "We address quality of life issues that range from pay and benefits, to Family programs, installation facilities, child development centers, dog parks and anything that will make a Soldier or Family member's life better. People need to know that their voice matters."
People can submit their issues directly to Kelly at the ACS office, or visit www.ftruckermwr.com/acs/army-family-action-plan/ to submit an issue. Anyone that wishes to have their issues reviewed must have them submitted by Sept. 27.
There are also boxes at many Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities around the installation that people can submit their issues to, she added.
Each year, a local-level AFAP conference is held where all the issues that are submitted from the total Army Family are discussed and prioritized.
"During this two-day conference, there will be four work groups with 10-15 people serving as delegates in each work group," said the AFAP manager. "The delegates are a mixture of Soldiers from different units who are tasked to work the issues as well as volunteers that include Soldiers and Family members.
"Each delegate will receive training to learn how to analyze and write an issue," she continued, "and each workgroup has facilitators to lead them through the process and ensure that none of the issues have been worked in the last three years."
Once delegates discuss each submitted issue, they choose the top two or three issues that are determined to be the most important, added Kelly.
These issues are then rewritten and reported to Fort Rucker leadership. At the end of the second day, each work group will report directly to Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, or his representative, on their findings.
Some quality of life issues that have been addressed in the past at Fort Rucker include: the new youth center and Wi-Fi access, increased security in the child development center, and the stream-lining of the referral system at Lyster Army Health Clinic.
When people submit an issue, Kelly said they should make sure to clarify what the exact problem is, why it is a problem and have a recommendation to fix the problem.
"One of the best things about the AFAP program is the vetting process," she said. "The process ensures that everything that is submitted is really well researched and the cost is thought out. It's all looked at from A to Z before it moves forward."
Over the past 30 years, AFAP has brought about 128 new pieces of legislation, 184 policy changes (Department of Defense and Department of the Army), and 208 improved programs and services, she said. Some of the specific programs and accomplishments that have come about because of AFAP are Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, Army Volunteer Corps, Military Thrift Savings Plan, increased military annual leave carryover and distribution of the Montgomery GI bill benefits to Family members.
Even after the conference is over, issues continue to be worked, which are led by the garrison commander's steering committee, she said.
If an issue that is brought before the AFAP committee cannot be dealt with at the installation level, it will then be elevated to a higher-level AFAP, but 90 percent of submitted issues can be resolved at the garrison level, said Kelly.
"The main thing is getting the issues in front of leadership, because anything that is brought forward here will be looked at by (Col. Stuart J. McRae), garrison commander, and the commanding general."
Kelly said that if people don't submit an issue, it might never be heard, and that's why the program is important. It gives people that forum to speak on their issues.
"You hear people's gripes all the time, but if you don't take the time to submit an issue, it's never going to get fixed," she said. "From the leadership's perspective, they might not see what's going on if people don't tell them. Everyone has a role to play to initiate needed change."
For more information, call 255-2382.