AFAP conference raises issues
February 11, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Immediately following a yearlong deployment in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Dionne Timaul, received orders to move to Fort Jackson. Once she arrived, Timaul said she was given very little time to settle her family and help them adjust to having "Mommy" back.
With the growing rate of single parents serving in the military, Timaul said her story is unfortunately becoming all too common.
But fortunately, Timaul said, she was able to represent single-parent service members and voice her concerns during Fort Jackson's annual Army Family Action Plan conference, Feb. 3-4 at the Officers' Club.
Timaul was among 32 volunteer delegates who met with subject matter experts to discuss possible solutions to quality-of-life issues for Soldiers, family members, retirees and DA civilians.
The delegates, who were trained by AFAP facilitators weeks before the conference, prioritized and presented their top concerns and recommended solutions to Scott Nahrwold, deputy garrison commander, and Col. Kevin Shwedo, deputy commanding officer.
The issues presented at the conference will be reviewed at the installation level. Some matters may be resolved locally, while some will go higher for resolution, with the possibility of having a broader impact.
In addition to addressing the needs of single-parent Soldiers, the conference participants narrowed down the following six issues as the most critical at Fort Jackson and that need to be addressed by the next AFAP conference in 2011: increasing living accommodations for single Soldiers; ensuring the timeliness of initial pay for new and returning Soldiers; expanding education to transitioning Soldiers regarding programs for family members with special needs; extending education benefits to retirees' spouses and increasing awareness of the Civilian Wellness Program.
After listening to the group's recommendations, Shwedo reminded the participants that the Army's number-one priority is to support Soldiers in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan who are putting their lives on the line. Second priority, he said, goes to Soldiers in training, and making sure they have skill sets that they need to be successful within combat. After that, he said, the commanding generals are concerned with the improving both Soldier and family quality of life.
"There were a lot of great issues discussed today," Shwedo said. "There were a lot of good things presented that I believe are truly actionable. We'll look at each issue and provide it all of the energy it needs to do as many things as we can."