AFAP serves SMDC family
December 21, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Leaders recently traveled to the final frontier to gather ideas for a better future for Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and families.
Sgt. Maj. John Mattie, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command G-3, and K.C. Bertling, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Army Family Action Plan coordinator, recently traveled to Fort Greely, Alaska, to learn how to improve the quality of life for members of the command.
Mattie and Bertling met Dec. 1-2 with those living in the command's northern border during Fort Greely's first AFAP conference which was hosted as a joint effort by the garrison and the 49th Missile Defense Battalion (Ground-based Midcourse Defense). During the conference, 20 delegates divided into two working groups to discuss issues.
"The delegates did a great job," Bertling said. "They all had great ideas to help improve their quality of life, and that is why AFAP was designed."
AFAP is a grassroots-level effort to gather ideas for change to improve the quality of life for those who have chosen the Army, whether as a Soldier or civilian, as a career.
Through AFAP, changes in Army procedures, rules and regulations can be changed to help create a better lifestyle for Soldiers, Army Families and DA civilians. 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 DA for further evaluation.
"AFAP is very important," Mattie said. "It is the link between the families and the military trying to get issues directed to Army leaders and have them understand their concerns and help improve the quality of life for Soldiers, DA civilians and families in any location."
The four major issues brought up were: Army Emergency Relief fund benefits for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers; morale and retention within the 49th MDB; Fort Greely DA civilian hiring processes; and an appropriate indoor running track for Soldiers.
Delegates brought up strengths such as the Army Substance Abuse Program, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the AFAP program. They also talked about challenges such as medical services and funding for programs, as well as retention.
"Delegates developed their top four issues and also identified programs and services that are ineffective, redundant or obsolete," Bertling said. "They also discussed their top three mobility and deployment strengths and challenges, and voted for their top five most valuable community services.
"These are important to the commanding general (Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica) as it was directed by the Army vice chief of staff (Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli)," she added. "The results were briefed to the garrison and 49th GMD commanders along with community members and conference participants. The top four issues will be included in the 2012 USASMDC/ARSTRAT mid-level command AFAP conference for further actions."
They also talked about the five most valuable local services, which were: Army Community Services programs and services; the commissary; FMWR programs and services; Army and Air Force Exchange Service; and employment.
Mattie talked about how leaders learned about the needs of those serving and their families. He also said that people have to speak up to be heard.
"The trip was great," Mattie said. "Overall, the delegates gave great feedback and let leaders know the issues that were important to them.
"One of the big issues for them was to see how Reservists and members of the National Guard can tap into Army Emergency Relief support," he added. "It was a good experience working with AFAP and I look forward to hearing more of their ideas."
Bertling said AFAP is a great way to gather thoughts in a forum and let those who are in a position to make changes understand what members of the command see as issues.
"AFAP is not a program for just Soldiers, but also for DA civilians, families and contractors," Bertling said. "We want everyone who has an idea to bring it forward because everyone associated with the Army has a voice. It is a great program that has made many changes for the entire Army."