By Mr. Kenneth Fidler (IMCOM)September 28, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - All it takes is a good idea, and the Army Family Action Plan takes it from there.
Now through Oct. 3, you can submit your ideas to improve community programs or services to the AFAP program, a deliberate process that takes your suggestions seriously to make Yongsan a better place to live, work and play.
All submitted issues will be looked at by a panel of 48 people from around the community during the annual USAG-Yongsan AFAP Conference Oct. 22-24. The Garrison has made it even easier to submit an issue by using this web form.
"AFAP was started by military spouses wanting to get results," said Julia Armstrong, USAG-Yongsan Army Community Service AFAP coordinator. "It works. We want to know about problems you may find around the community, but more importantly, your ideas for solutions."
At last year's AFAP conference, someone made the suggestion to expand commissary shopping hours. That idea got put in front of a panel, then Garrison and Commissary leadership. Since June 1, shoppers have enjoyed early-bird, express-only shopping starting at 7 a.m. until normal hours begin at 10 a.m.
Here's what else AFAP has done at Yongsan:
• Created Yellow Dust information cards created and distributed before the season and available on the 18th Medical Command Web site.
• Built new bus shelters at all shuttle bus stops that improve protection from the elements.
• Increased family member employment opportunities.
• Increased shoppette operating hours.
Your input could also have Army-wide impact. Starting Oct. 1, retired military members who live overseas have the option to purchase dental insurance for themselves and their families through the new Tricare Retiree Dental Plan. That suggestion originated from a Yongsan AFAP conference and gained DOD-level attention.
"AFAP is open to anyone. Anyone can submit an issue," Armstrong said. "If we have 80 issues, then all 80 will get looked at during the conference and addressed by a functional expert and the panel."
During the conference, four groups of 12 people each - called delegates - will look at all submitted issues, separated into four categories: support/entitlements, family services, education and medical, and teen issues. One group will be made up of teens from the middle school and high school.
Before the conference, functional area experts will have about 10 days to review the submitted issues to prepare to discuss each one with the delegates during the conference.
"We're also especially looking for teen issues," Armstrong said. "For example, one that we will address at the conference deals with increasing teen employment opportunities."
Some other submitted issues include:
• Improved Internet access in some housing areas.
• Increased employment opportunities for spouses.
• More flexible child care options, such as availability at a fitness center.
• Assigning medical staff at K-16 Air Base.
• Adding taxi-van service for large families and groups and trips to the airport.
This year is AFAP's 25th anniversary, Armstrong said, with a theme of "AFAP ... The Strength of the Army Family." The Army started AFAP in 1983. Since then, according to Army statistics, the program has resulted in 152 Defense Department or Army policy and regulatory changes. It also has increased funding for 168 programs and services.