AFAP Update: General Officer Steering Committee reviews 35 issues
September 6, 2011
SAN ANTONIO -- The Army Family Action Plan is an incredibly important program that allows senior Army leaders to understand the needs of Soldiers, Civilians and Families and continue to deliver on the promise of the Army Family Covenant. It's a grassroots effort by the Army community to identify what's not working, why it should change, and how to fix it.
Since the inception of AFAP in 1983 there have been 683 issues elevated to the Department of the Army level. Of those, 500 have been completed, 144 were unattainable due to either legislative or budget constraints, and 38 remain active.
Twice a year, Army senior leaders and program representatives meet to review the progress made against the remaining active issues and assign a status of active, complete or unattainable. The latest review session was held at the beginning of this month. Of the 35 issues reviewed, it was determined that 22 of those should remain active as work is still being done, five are complete, and the remaining eight are unattainable. The results will make life better for Soldiers, Civilians and their Families for years to come.
Now 38 states offer military spouse unemployment compensation compared to only eight in 2002 when this issue was introduced into the AFAP process. In addition, Maryland and the District of Columbia evaluate eligibility on a case-by-case basis. This issue arose because most states considered leaving a job due to military relocation as voluntary rather than involuntary. To get a complete listing of the participating states and to learn more about this issue, visit the Army OneSource website at https://www.myarmyonesource.com/familyprogramsandservices and search for issue number 524.
Through issue No. 574, funding for the Reserve Component Strong Bonds Program is now available. Its mission is to increase Soldier and Family readiness through relationship education and skills training. Attendees voluntarily participate in a Strong Bonds retreat that provides an emotionally safe and secure environment to address the effects of military lifestyle stressors. To learn more about the Strong Bonds Program, visit www.strongbonds.org.
Three medical and behavioral health issues are nearing completion. Funding for issue 583 which mandates that all stateside installations, including Alaska and Hawaii, provide Advanced Life Support services on or near the installation has been requested for the fiscal year 2013 budget. Issue 646, once approved, eliminates generic mail order prescription cost shares beginning in fiscal year 2012. Lastly, an increase in authorizations of career coordinators assigned to Wounded Warrior Soldiers and their Families/Caregivers is also complete. Warrior Transition Units now have Military Career Counselors and Transition Coordinators to assist transitioning Warriors with developing career and education goals.
Although some issues remain active, considerable progress has been made. An example is issue 641 which recommends a comprehensive strategy to optimize alternative treatment options to manage pain and prevent over medication. Three years ago, more than 95 percent of our Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed were on opioid narcotics. Today that number is 8 percent, and we're moving this practice across to other services.
Part of this year's process also includes improving our resource management. As the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, it is my responsibility to ensure that the Army delivers on its promise to provide Soldiers, Civilians and their Families a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service. At the same time, it is also our responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayer's money.
Currently we're funding hundreds of Family programs at approximately $2.1 billion. As an Army we have to embrace a cost culture in order to sustain the force and accomplish our strategic imperatives effectively and efficiently. The three fundamental questions we must all ask ourselves are: Do we really need it? Is it worth the cost? What are we willing to do without?
Of those programs, what are we willing to do without? Which programs should be combined, and which should be eliminated? Which ones are no longer useful, and which programs need more resources?
Over the past few months through Army OneSource we have asked the Army Family what are our most valuable programs and which ones are least important. I've also received input from senior leaders at the garrison level.
This information collected at the grassroots level will be invaluable as we move forward in the ever changing fiscal environment. Be assured that Army leadership is fully aware of the sacrifices Soldiers and their Families have made over the past 10 years. With this awareness, we continue to fulfill the promise of the Army Family Covenant.