By Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)October 29, 2015
The Fort Leonard Wood Army Family Action Plan Conference concluded Friday with delegates moving forward a recommendation to establish an additional waiting area for military hospital emergency rooms.
AFAP is a process in which service members, Family members, retirees and other community representatives have an opportunity to let Army leadership know what is working, what is not working, and allows them to make recommendations to fix the problems.
After spending three days looking at ways to improve the quality of life for community members, delegates found the emergency room situation rising to the top of the eight issues they considered.
Issue 16-008 addressed the situation. Delegates recognized an "overcrowding problem" with trainees and their battle buddies when arriving at the emergency room. Trainees are required to arrive with two battle buddies. According to the scope of the issue: "during high volume periods, this causes inadequate emergency room seating for additional (military personnel, dependents, and retirees) patients."
Delegates advanced a recommendation to "establish a separate waiting area for battle buddies of patients during emergency room visits."
While the emergency room issue applies generally to GLWACH, Jody Carmack, AFAP facilitator, said the issue could potentially impact other installations.
"I was impressed with how the group thought out of the box to take the issue about 'Overcrowding in the ER' on Fort Leonard Wood and came up with how to potentially apply it to mitigate similar issues at many of the other installations. Not just taking it as submitted, but forming a resolution to have much broader impact across the military," she said.
The AFAP process has impacted military communities worldwide since its inception. Some of the programs resulting from the process include the Montgomery GI Bill, Army Family Team Building and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers. The program has also brought about changes in benefits, including actions such as increases in service members group life insurance.
At the conference opening, Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, called the delegates a "think tank."
The AFAP conferences worldwide have developed more than 500 ideas, 500 issues. "Sixty percent of those were issues that were adopted across all of the Department of Defense. The delegates not only help Fort Leonard Wood, but all of DOD in a lot of cases," Herbst said.
He said that while all ideas may not rise to the Army level, many could be addressed on the garrison level, such as the final emergency room recommendation.
There might be little ideas that come out of the AFAP conference that … are really important to keep our base safe, more secure and improve quality of life," Herbst said.
The conference concluded Friday with a briefing provided to leaders of Fort Leonard Wood.
For more information on the issues, or the AFAP process, contact JP Flores, at 573.596.0131, ext. 60212.