By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 26, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 26, 2013) -- Fort Rucker leadership wants to hear from the total military Family, and will get a chance to do so when it holds a Teen Army Family Action Plan Oct. 5.
Teen AFAP will be held at The Commons on Seventh Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to review the issues that are submitted between now and Oct. 4.
Teens can submit issues on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/572687702767015 or on the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation web page at www.ftruckermwr.com/acs/army-family-action-plan.
Military teens ages 13-18, may submit their problems and issues, and Kelly said that none are too big and none are too small.
"The AFAP exists to give a voice to every member of the total Army Family," she said. "We address quality of life issues that range from pay and benefits, to Family programs, installation facilities, child development centers, dog parks and anything that will make a Soldier or Family member's life better. People need to know that their voice matters."
There are also boxes at many DFMWR facilities around the installation that people can submit their issues to, she added.
Food will be provided to the teens who attend the conference, which is held each year where all the issues that are submitted are discussed, analyzed and prioritized.
"This isn't a time where moms and dads get to share their perspective, this is all about the teens and what they would like to see changed about their Army life," said Kelly. "Fort Rucker leadership cares very deeply about giving all members of the Army Family a voice. This is the teen's opportunity."
Once the teen delegates discuss each submitted issue, they choose the issues that are determined to be the most important.
These issues are then rewritten and reported to Fort Rucker leadership, and though this demographic might not seem terribly important, Kelly said that its input is vital.
"Army teens face many of the same issues other teens face -- pressure to do well in school, bullying, peer pressure, the need for interesting free time activities, the need for volunteer and summer job opportunities, etc., but they do it with the added stressors of starting over every two to three years in a different location and school," said Kelly. "And they face long absences of parents because of deployments (and training). Sometimes adults forget what it is like to be a teenager."
Kelly asks that when teens submit an issue they make sure to clarify what the exact problem is, why it is a problem and have a recommendation to fix the problem.
"One of the best things about the AFAP program is the vetting process," she said. "The process ensures that everything that is submitted is really well researched and the cost is thought out. It's all looked at from A to Z before it moves forward."
Even after the conference is over, issues continue to be worked, which are led by the garrison commander's steering committee, she said.
"Most teen issues can be influenced at the garrison level," said Kelly. "But if the issue is something that cannot be fixed then the issue is elevated up.
"Almost 10 years ago, teens spoke of the frustration of doing activities together, older and younger," she continued. "They were forced to do so because of building space. It took some time, but last year the new Fort Rucker Youth Center was opened, which allowed activities to be grouped in a more age-appropriate way. Last year, the teens requested Wi-Fi in the center, leadership heard their request and there is now Wi-Fi in (there.)"
Anything that is brought forward will be looked at by Col. Stuart J. McRae, garrison commander, and the commanding general, said Kelly, adding that if teens don't submit an issue, it might never be heard, and that's why the program is important. It gives teens that forum to speak on their issues.
"You hear people's gripes all the time, but if you don't take the time to submit an issue, it's never going to get fixed," she said. "From the leadership's perspective, they might not see what's going on if people don't tell them. Everyone has a role to play to initiate needed change."
For more information, call 255-2382.