WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 19, 2008) During this the 25th anniversary of the Army Family Action Plan, Army spouses can be proud of the strides made for families Army-wide.

Army spouses identified problems that affected their families in the late 1970s, suggested solutions and volunteered their time to bring about changes. Their concern, perseverance and commitment led to the formal adoption of the AFAP in 1983, said Sylvia Kidd, Association of the U.S. Army director of Family Programs.

Program milestones to date include 152 Defense Department or Army policy and regulatory changes and funding increases for 168 programs or services, Kidd told attendees at the General Officer Steering Committee on AFAP held in June.

When asked about changes that have taken place over the last 25 years to improve the quality of life for Army families, Kidd cited recent improvements such as Family-Readiness Group assistants.

"These are individuals who are paid to work with the FRG leader to ensure continuity of support to families," Kidd said.

While the assistants have been working to support families for three years now at the corps and division levels, they are only now working at the brigade and battalion levels Army-wide.

Another AFAP-related success, Kidd said, are improvements in Army spouse employment, with employment partnerships between the DOD and the Department of Education.

"To date, more than 25 corporations have committed to providing jobs for Army spouses," she said.

The "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program is another recent addition to the support programs available to Soldiers and their families through AFAP, Kidd said. An Oklahoma Army National Guard-originated program, it's now being implemented Army-wide to provide long-term options for redeployed Soldiers, such as counseling services for those returning from war.

Among other services available as part of the AFAP are:

• Dental services for retirees overseas, through the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan

• Non-subsidized Reserve Component Group Health and Dental Insurance. TRICARE Reserve Select provides medical and dental insurance coverage for Reservists at no cost to the government.

• More available marriage and family counselors in under-served areas

• Funding for Exceptional Family Member Program respite care

• Funding for Army Community Services positions and ACS well-being initiatives

Kidd said the AFAP still has some 91 issues on the books they are working to resolve.