Fort Bragg Army Family Action Plan provides forum for community
October 29, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Colonel Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander, began the Army Family Action Plan conference outbrief Oct. 21, by telling Soldiers, Families and employees anything that could be fixed at his level would be fixed.
Some of the issues that came before the command were brought forth by single Soldiers, wounded warriors, Family support and benefits and employment groups.
The availability of housing on the installation was among the first issues addressed.
"There is an insufficient number of homes to accommodate Soldiers and Family needs forcing them to pay more out of pocket, or many times, accept less adequate housing," said Sebe Nieves, a benefits and entitlements spokesperson.
Fort Bragg has a cap of 6,238 homes on post, with a 12-month wait for housing for junior enlisted Soldiers.
One hundred percent of the housing needs on post will never be met, Sicinski said. But, Picerne Military Housing, Fort Bragg's housing partner, has begun home conversions in the cantonment area and made four-bedroom homes available at Linden Oaks.
Delegates also asked for special duty pay for humanitarian missions. One example of a humanitarian mission was the Soldiers' recent deployment to Haiti.
But, the decision to implement such pay exceeds any Fort Bragg capabilities. "This one definitely has to go higher. We can't do this locally," Sicinski said.
Other benefit issues that were brought forth included a recommendation from Family members that Soldiers' children who attend off post schools be allowed, on a space-availability basis, to use the same before and after-school care given to children of Soldiers who reside on Fort Bragg.
"DoDEA isn't funded to be able to accommodate off-post kids," said Sicinksi.
Another recommendation brought forwarded was the idea to provide transportation for domestic violence victims who seek treatment at Womack Army Medical Center or Fort Bragg facilities to destinations off post once treatment has been rendered.
It was an idea that Sicinski seemed to approve. He said, "We can find a local solution for this issue and extend it not only to domestic violence, but to rape victims as well."
Of other medical import is a request to extend coverage of Family members to age 26, to mimic the benefit established by the recent Health Care Reform Act. The matter is already before Congress, officials said.
According to Becky Bliss, of the wounded warriors work group, there is a wealth of varied resources for the Warrior Transition Battalion, but the information has not been consolidated into one specific place. Bliss urged command to create a website where the information could be consolidated.
Another request seemed to gain traction. When Bliss requested that deploying units receive a WTB briefing, Sicinski said, "This is easy to fix. We'll add it at the local level."
Recent changes implemented upon the advice of Family members have been the creation of a Teen Food Council at Tolson Youth Activities Center to improve the quality of food offered at the facility and the extensive cleaning of Fort Bragg schools during the summer to promote cleanliness, as well as early opening of pools prior to Memorial Day.
AFAP allows Soldiers and their Families, and Department of Army civilians to voice concerns to leadership and make recommendations for change, all in an effort to enhance quality of life.