AFAP serves Army family
June 9, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Leaders recently traveled far and wide to gather ideas for a better future.
Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Larry S. Turner, USASMDC/ARSTRAT command sergeant major, recently traveled to Fort Greely, Alaska, and Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands to learn how to increase the quality of life for members of the command.
Formica and Turner, along with other leaders, met with those living in the command's far corners during each installation's Army Family Action Plan conferences. AFAP is a grassroots-level effort to gather ideas for change to improve the quality of life for those who have chosen the Army as a career.
"This year was hugely successful," said K.C. Bertling, USASMDC/ARSTRAT AFAP coordinator. "The command's goal is to hear from the Soldiers, Families and civilians about what is broke, what is not working and how can the command can improve the quality of life for the Army Family."
Through AFAP, changes in Army procedures, rules and regulations can be changed and modified to help create a better lifestyle for Soldiers, Army Families and Department of the Army civilians.
"An objective for the command is to bring people together in one location and hear from them and the leaders can address the issues, concerns or ideas," Bertling said. "This is not a complaint process but simply a place to present their ideas to the commanding general."
Issues brought up that can be resolved locally are addressed, while issues that cannot be resolved locally and may benefit the Army as a whole are sent forward to the Department of Army for further evaluation.
"One of our goals is to learn what programs are inefficient and we met that goal," Bertling said. "The delegates sat down with us and discussed what is good and also some of the things we need and also some of the things we can do without."
A major issue in both Alaska and at Kwajalein was health care and how service members and their loved ones who are in the Army system still have difficulties when transferring from installation to installation.
"Some of the bigger issues have been TRICARE referral services," Bertling said. "One of the biggest problems is that it should be made easier and not be as complicated as the process is now."
Bertling talked about how leaders learned about the needs of those serving and their Families. She also said that people have to speak up to be heard.
"Army leaders want to hear from the people to improve the quality of life," Bertling said. "And when people present realistic ideas to commanders, they can be processed and Army leaders are interested in what people have to say.
"I recommend young family members get involved with Army Family Action Plan programs and to learn more about the Army," she added.
Each separate conference was seen as a great way to gather thoughts in a forum and let those in a position to make changes understand what members of the command see as issues.
"There have been a lot of benefits which have come about because of the AFAP program," Bertling said. "Everyone - whether they are active duty, Guard or Reservist, family members, civilians or retirees - has benefited from the ideas of others.
"I recommend that everyone get involved," she added. "There is nothing to lose and we can only better our future as an Army Family."