By Fort Waiwnright, Alaska staff reportDecember 18, 2013
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The Army Family Action Plan is one of the Army's principle programs to ensure that standards of living in the Army keep pace with changing times. It gives Soldiers, Families, retirees and civilian employees the opportunity to influence their own standards of living at the local as well as at the "Big" Army level.
Army Community Service hosted the annual conference Dec. 9 and 10 at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. ACS, a division of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate, established an AFAP brain trust of two workgroups comprised of 16 delegates. Active duty and retired Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees were among the primary group. Youth delegates focused on child and youth issues in the second group.
Ten subject matter experts assisted the workgroups in developing and prioritizing the issues. A team of four conference staff guided the group through the process; five ACS staff members coordinated and assisted with the conference. Six observers visited throughout the conference.
The Army Family Action Plan is an opportunity for the community to make suggestions on how to improve the quality of life.
The conference this year was a two-day event. Department of the Army has restructured the AFAP process this year. Issues that cannot be resolved at the local Garrison level are now sent directly to Army HQ for resolution. In the past, issues were sent to the major command (such as Pacific Region for Alaska's installations) for a mid-level conference and then issues that were prioritized were forwarded to HQDA. Mid-level (Region) conferences have been eliminated.
The purpose of the AFAP conference is to identify and develop specific, clearly articulated issues that will improve soldier, Family and civilian standards of living.
The delegates prioritized issues and selected the top three:
1. Updating the Welcome Center building to provide a welcoming, handicap accessible building that's easier to navigate and create a positive atmosphere;
2. A crosswalk installation between the Soldier and Family Assistance Center and the parking lot across the street at Rhineland Avenue;
3. Staff shortages across the Garrison cause increased tasks and duties taken on by remaining staff to support Soldiers and Families reduce effectiveness of remaining staff and increase stress on staff, which can be transferred to Soldiers and Families. Recommendations were to hire more staff, reduce programs or requirements and provide new stress-relief sessions by professionals.
Now that the AFAP conference is over, issues that can be resolved at the local level are worked through the AFAP Steering Committee that meets quarterly.
Validations, cost effectiveness and required actions to resolve issues are developed by proponent agencies and progress toward resolution is noted.
Proponent agencies present issues to the garrison commander for review and decision.
Some of the issues are local issues and we will work to resolve those over time.
Issues that cannot be resolved at the local level are sent to Army HQ level for resolution.
Fairbanks businesses partnered with FMWR to support the AFAP conference. Birchwood Homes, Bruegger's Bagels, Fairbanks Orthodontics Group, Kendall Subaru of Fairbanks and MAC Federal Credit Union came through as event sponsors. "It's a positive environment and it's great to have positive support from the local community," said commercial sponsorship coordinator Eric Knox.
"We are truly thankful to have so many sponsors interested in supporting our Army community through a wide variety of Family and MWR commercial
sponsorship opportunities," Knox said. "Fort Wainwright's annual AFAP conference brings together representatives of the entire community to identify, develop, and prioritize issues that many believe are important to maintain a good standard of living."
The AFAP process does not end or begin with the conference; it is a year-round process.
For those who missed the conference, there is a way to contribute ideas or suggestions. Issues can be submitted year-round online at www.myarmyonesource.com in the "Family Programs and Services" drop-down menu section under "Army Family Action Plan Issue Management System".
Issues can be submitted on the MWR Webpage under the Army Community Service section or sent via email to email@example.com. Issues can also be dropped off at the front desk at ACS which is located in the Welcome Center, building 3401. Issues and suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.