AFAP conference identifies issues, offers solutions
December 18, 2012
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Volunteers spent days debating solutions and hashing out suggestions on nearly 50 issues submitted by the Hohenfels Military Community at this year's Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference, Dec. 11-13.
AFAP is the Army's grassroots process for identifying quality of life issues impacting Soldiers, families and DOD civilians, and bringing them to senior leaders for action.The conference brings community representatives together as delegates, facilitators, recorders and experts to prioritize, discuss and offer recommendations on issues both at an installation level and an Armywide level.
Issues that are beyond the scope of the garrison may be submitted to the IMCOM-Europe AFAP conference, and can even reach the Department of the Army conference.
Delegates from Hohenfels chose the top six issues to present to garrison leadership at an outbriefing held at the Community Activities Center, Dec. 13.
This year's top issue was college visitation for outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS) for DODEA junior and senior high school students. The high cost of airfare makes visiting colleges within CONUS prohibitive for DODEA high school students, and the delegates recommended either establishing a program to enable students and one parent to fly stateside for college visits, or to authorize Space Available travel for high school seniors.
Tying for first place was the lack of family friendly child care at fitness centers and delegates offered the recommendation of revising building specifications to provide on-sight, free child care in fitness centers throughout the Army.
The third issue concerned the disparity of the Overseas Housing Allowance between installations in the same geographic locations within Germany. With many service members paying partially out-of-pocket for their off-post private rental, delegates recommended comparing and closing the gap between installations with overlapping private rental housing markets.
Fourth on this list was OCONUS force protection employee responsibilities on DODEA school buses; while bus drivers are responsible for overseeing behavioral issues on the bus, they are not required to speak English. Force protection employees conduct improvised explosive device (IED) searches prior to bus departure and surveillance. While these employees are required to have a basic knowledge of English, they are not empowered to implement corrective actions for misbehaving students riding the bus.
The delegates recommended either expanding the force protection employees' responsibilities to address behavioral issues, or appointing a trained English-speaking bus monitor to enforce safety and disciplinary standards.
Another hot issue was the Provost Marshall Office, which currently fields four to five military police per shift responsible for patrolling 23,000 square miles. Delegates recommended the addition of one MP platoon to help enforce traffic regulations.
The final issue presented at the outbriefing focused on retiree dependents use of Air Mobility Command (AMC) flights with recommendations to allow retiree dependents to travel without their sponsor.
Col. John G. Norris, Joint Multinational Readiness Center commander, said the AFAP conference gave him an opportunity to see the installation from a new vantage point, and he stressed his appreciation for the community's participation.
"If you don't speak up and you don't communicate, you'll never be heard. Your eyes, your observations and your feedback help me to see my organization better," he told the delegates.
"We're not going to solve everything and we're not going to fix everything," he said, "but those issues that I can influence and those that I can affect, I will absolutely go out of my way to do everything in my power to help make this a better community."