<b> FORT STEWART, GA </b> -- As we recognize the 25th anniversary of the Army Family Action Plan, our Army community can help to continue the momentous strides made for Families Army wide.

"Now is the time for your voice to be heard," said Diane Smith, coordinator of the AFAP effort at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield. "It's a proven system that shows tangible results, a venue to express your concerns about Army life." Active and reserve Soldiers, retirees, surviving spouses, Department of the Army Civilians, and Family Members are invited to submit issues they believe are important to maintain a good standard of living.

The AFAP is a tool for encouraging input from the people of the Army to Army leadership. It's a process that invites Soldiers and Families to say what's working, and what isn't - and what they think will fix it.

It alerts commanders and Army leaders to areas of concern that need their attention and it gives them an opportunity to quickly put plans into place to work toward resolving the issues.

"The process is completely anonymous, so people can rest assured that their name or email address cannot be traced," Smith said. If you see something that should be changed or implemented, or you know of a way to improve a service or procedure, submit your idea and it will be considered at the upcoming AFAP Conference Nov. 12-14 at Stewart.

Keep in mind that AFAP issues and recommendations should be "global" in nature, affecting a wide portion of the Army.

"Our Town Hall Meetings are where you can address smaller issues that don't impact the entire Army," Smith said. "AFAP issues are first worked at the local level, resulting in ongoing community improvements. Issues that are beyond the jurisdiction of the local level are sent to FORSCOM where delegates from the FORSCOM footprint determine which issues can be handled by FORSCOM or require higher DA headquarters consideration.

When asked about changes that have taken place over the last 25 years to improve the quality of life for Army Families, Smith cited recent improvements such as the Family Readiness Group Assistant Program.

"These are paid positions where individuals work with FRG leaders to ensure support to Families," Smith said.

Other AFAP-related successes, Smith said, are employment partnerships with corporations committed to providing jobs for Army spouses, funding for the Exceptional Family Member Program respite care, increased Family Separation Allowance, increased life insurance coverage for servicemembers.

In addition, programs such as Army Family Team Building and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers were born out of the AFAP.

As we look at AFAP's history, the program results speak for themselves with numerous changes to legislation, policies established or revised, and programs or services created or improved.

All in all, the AFAP truly provides the "voice" for Families and Soldiers to elevate their concerns, and remains the preeminent means for commanders, at all levels, to seek solutions to the concerns of their communities.

A link on Fort Stewart's Web site www.stewart.army.mil allows you to submit an issue, register as a Delegate, or volunteer for the AFAP Team.

For more information on AFAP, contact Army Community Service, 767-5058/5059 at Stewart or 315-6816 at Hunter.

Page last updated Fri October 24th, 2008 at 17:42