AFAP Symposium improves military Families' quality of life
October 21, 2011
The Army Family Action Plan symposium, which focuses on military quality of life issues, is Nov. 3-4 at the Barden Education Center and is hosted by Army Community Service.
Two separate working groups, consisting of 10-12 members from varying demographics such as military Family members, Soldiers and civilians, will review issues either on Fort Belvoir or Army wide brought to AFAP's attention during the past year.
The symposium will go from 8 a.m to 4 p.m on Nov. 3 and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 4.
At the conclusion of the second day each group will brief Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula on the issues they have chosen as the most vital. These vital issues will be sent to the Military District of Washington Symposium which will take place in May 2012.
"We are going to look at quality of life issues at Fort Belvoir," said Faithleen Henderson, Army Volunteer Corp Manager. "We are going to ask those who volunteered to come to seriously look at the issues that we see and to prioritize at least three of those issues and make them strong enough that they will leave our symposium and go to the Military District of Washington symposium. There, we are going to hope the issues continue to move forward to the Department of the Army."
The topics discussed at the symposium will range from issues the volunteers see on post to issues they have seen both at Belvoir and at previous duty stations. For example, if a volunteer feels there is an issue with the medical system on post and they encountered that same issue at a previous installation then that issue should probably be forwarded to MDW.
Henderson said she prefers the topics discussed be Army-wide issues and not specific to Belvoir.
"A lot of the issues brought up regarding the installation have something to do with the roads not being properly paved, or 'Why aren't there signs in these areas,'" said Henderson. "Not to say that those issues aren't important, but the value of the symposium is in preparing an issue or issues that go up to the DA and have the issue mandated throughout the Army. I think we get more bang for our buck that way."
Henderson also said she feels the people who volunteer to come to the symposium prefer to discuss Army-wide issues because if a regulation is changed they feel they have achieved a major accomplishment since they were the originators of the suggested change.
Subject matter experts will be at the symposium to inform volunteers of Army regulations that may relate to the issue they have raised or financial roadblocks that may prevent an issue from even being addressed by MDW.
There will be time during the symposium to discuss issues on post that is called the "four most valuable services" portion. Volunteers will discuss the services on post; medical, dental or even what is at the commissary and post exchange they find most beneficial.
"We will present that information to Colonel Strycula during the out-briefs discussion," said Henderson. "If he hasn't viewed those services or places as his strongest organizations or agencies it gives him an insight into that and say 'OK, let's look to make sure everything is being done to keep these organizations on top and look at the other ones and what might be going wrong for them and how to improve them.'"
Even if just one issue is raised during the symposium and sent to the MDW, Henderson said she feels the symposium is a success since the amount of issues raised isn't her major goal.
"It's not so much 'Let's make sure we have 20 issues to brief the colonel on,' " said Henderson. "We want the issues raised to be of substance. We have to make sure the explanation is clear and concise because once it leaves Belvoir we're not going to travel with it to explain it while it moves. So, the packaging is very key. We want to make that one issue as strong as it can possibly be."