AFAP conference serves to bring Soldier, Family issues to forefront
April 25, 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Throughout the Army, Soldiers face issues that, at times, are too difficult to tackle; these issues are the focus of the U.S. Army North's 2011 Army Family Action Plan conference.
Representatives from throughout Army North and its Defense Coordinating Element regions participated in the conference April 18-21 in downtown San Antonio.
"This is the time where we work to help Soldiers with issues, not only from the Fort Sam Houston area but from all the regions within Army North," said Col. Richard Francey, chief of staff, Army North. "This mission is critical in helping those issues get resolved."
The conference attendees played a key role by providing their insights and feedback to the command's leaders. The information is used to provide the commanders, as well as Army leaders, insight on areas of concern. This, in turn, provides the leaders an opportunity to address the issues and to establish plans and procedures geared toward resolving them.
AFAP provides a way for policy changes to become tangible, end-products for members of the Army Family, said Tania Cuervo, ARNORTH Quality of Work/Life program coordinator and Family Action Plan coordinator. It addresses quality-of-life issues for Soldiers, family members, retirees and Department of Army civilian employees.
The assembled delegates, facilitators, recorders and transcribers worked together to not only identify the potential issues but to also prioritize them. Once that was established, they gathered in two small groups to discuss the issues and to craft their recommendations.
"The AFAP conference is helping Soldiers and family members increase their quality of life," said Aquinda Reed, plans NCO, Army North, who also served as a facilitator for the conference. "Its main objective is to help reduce a potential weakness of issue in Army programs."
During the conference, among the numerous issues discussed were: a proposed increase in the Service members Group Life Insurance cap to $1 million; the elimination of future Army Career and Alumni Program budget reductions; and the authorization of federal retirees to pay health premiums with pre-tax dollars.
"The program is here to ensure that the Family, as a whole, has a support foundation," explained Reed.
While addressing each topic, the groups collectively gathered information and then drew upon other's knowledge and experience to develop their team recommendations.
One of the issues discussed involved the potential implementation of Family Time. Some made the observation there is a lack of consistency from base to base in that Family Time is a recurring event, designated within unit training calendars at some bases but not implemented at others.
Numerous ideas and recommendations flowed throughout the conference as those in attendance shared their observations and experiences.
"I believe that AFAP works," said Reed. "It is here to ensure that the Family, as a whole, has a support foundation."