For the past 25 years, the needs of our Army Family have remained front and center in the hearts and minds of Army leaders worldwide and will remain in the forefront with the continued success of the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference - success that can only be accomplished with your assistance.
This conference will be held Dec. 2 through 4, with the opening ceremony Dec. 2 at 8 a.m. in the Fort McPherson Post Theater.
It does not only depend on your participation, but your volunteerism as well. Volunteers are essential to the effectiveness of AFAP, and the Army Community Services (ACS) staff is currently accepting volunteers for this year's conference. Whether working as a delegate, facilitator, issue disposition person or conference committee member, your involvement as a volunteer, at any level, is imperative and I encourage all of you to be actively involved in this initiative.
AFAP's mission is to help Army leaders address the needs and concerns of the total Army Family. The program enlists representatives from around the world to identify and prioritize issues that will improve the standards of living in the Army.
AFAP beneficiaries include Soldiers (all components), retirees, DA Civilians and their Family members, all of whom make up the participants in these conferences.
Army leadership is engaged and believes in the AFAP program and processes at all levels.
AFAP provides us with real-time information on our community's satisfaction, concerns and challenges. It also enhances readiness and increases the quality of life for the total Army family because of your personal involvement in identifying issues of concern and determining what actions are necessary to resolve them.
Issues pertaining to health care, housing, entitlements, education and finances are examples of potential AFAP focus.
Since the first official AFAP conference in 1983, 633 issues have been identified and AFAP has driven 107 legislative changes, 154 Army policy regulatory changes and 173 improved programs and services.
We owe a lot to the commitment and dedication of the Army spouses in the late 1970s, whose voluntary efforts set the foundation for AFAP.
These women wanted to improve the standard of living for their families and realized they would have to get organized to reach their goals.
They met to identify and document the concerns of Soldiers and Family members. They brought light to problems, suggested ways to resolve them and then volunteered their efforts to fix them.
These spouses took action to fix the issues of importance to them. We will follow their example at our conference in December. Everyone's opinion matters and many of you may share the same concerns.
According to the U.S. Army's 2008 posture statement, approximately 61 percent of AFAP issues are applicable across the DoD and 95 percent of AFAP issues are worked at local levels to improve local army communities.
The AFAP process begins at the installation level. Each garrison conducts an annual AFAP conference, where delegates brainstorm to identify, develop and prioritize issues. Many of these resulting issues will be garrison-specific and can be resolved locally, while others will be applicable beyond the local level and sent forward.
Even though we only hold the AFAP conference once a year, AFAP is a year-round process. Issues are continually monitored with an eye toward local resolution.
Existing issues cannot be resolved unless you speak up and share your concerns.
There is nothing worse than for dissatisfaction to linger in silence. Help me to help you identify and resolve the issues that will keep us Army Strong. Be a part of the AFAP conference and you instantly become part of the solution and light the way in improving the quality of life for all of us.