AFAP conference targets local issues
March 22, 2011
- It's very interesting all of these top issues were local. That gives us an opportunity to do something."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Volunteers gathered for two days last month at the Hohenfels Army Community Service offices to serve the garrison and the Army as delegates, facilitators, recorders, and experts, and hash out solutions to issues identified by Hohenfels community members.
The Army Family Action Plan conference brings community representatives together to prioritize, discuss, and offer recommendations on issues that impact the quality of life both at an installation level and an Army-wide level. Issues that are beyond the scope of the garrison may be submitted to the IMCOM-Europe AFAP conference, and can even reach the Department of the Army conference.
"The AFAP process is quite powerful in terms of getting ideas out from the community at the grass roots level and getting them toward the people who can make decisions and have influence over change within our organization," said Kurt Rager, Relocation & AFAP Program Manager.
"It's a great way to get new eyes and creative ideas by people who are not necessarily 'experts'," said Lara Clagett, acting ACS director.
Last year's conference identified 70 issues, 58 which were considered local, Rager said. Of the 60 issues facing delegates this year, all the top conference issues were local, he added.
"It's very interesting all of these top issues were local," said Col. John M. Spiszer, Joint Multinational Readiness Center commander. "That gives us an opportunity to actually do something. The power is in our hands."
Delegates were tasked with identifying the top five overall conference issues.
Their number one issue concerned an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom memorial for Hohenfels fallen Soldiers. There is currently no designated place where family, friends and community members can gather to mourn, honor and remember their fallen Soldiers. They suggested that a centrally located memorial would bring a sense of closure, respect, and appreciation for all.
The number two issue dealt with on post recreational activities for children ages 6-17. The delegates pointed out the early closure hours of school-aged children's recreation facilities, and the lack of coordination between existing facilities and current bus schedules. The concern is that a lack of adequate facilities for children may lead to underage dependents participating in unsafe and unsupervised activities. With a long term goal of creating a multi-aged recreational facility with such services as mini-golf and laser tag, the conference members also suggested establishing a High School only recreation area for Friday and Saturday evenings.
Repetitive fast food selection and crowded restaurants also topped the list with delegates proposing additional fast food franchise such as Popeye's, Taco Bell or Captain D's, or perhaps a local doner kabob or rotisseries stand to operate on a continuing basis.
Delegates determined that the school lunch program fails to prepare adequate numbers of preferred menu items and routinely runs out of popular entree items during lunch services at both schools. They suggested the school provide a take home menu to allow students to select from available menu items ahead of time, thereby insuring enough of each item is prepared for the day.
The last of the top five issues related to cell phone providers and the poor coverage for T-Mobile/TKS cell phones. While Vodafone is available on post, phone selection is limited and contract options are not offered. Delegates suggested that engaging Vodafone to provide contract services on post would provide better communication between family members, soldiers and more reliable access to emergency services.
Lt. Col. Kevin J. Quarles, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander, promised that he and his team would work every one of the issues until completion.
"I want to thank everyone for their participation," said Quarles. "Your energy started the process for us this year. The community is sending me a message, I'm getting it. And I've got work to do."