By Christine JuneFebruary 4, 2009
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Amy Thomson now knows about pilot youth programs and initiatives because she attended the town hall meeting Jan. 29 at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne.
"I think it was a wonderful meeting, and I wish there had been more people here from the community so they could see and take part," said Thomson, an Air Force spouse who plans on letting all her friends know about the information she found out during the meeting.
"It's just like voting - if you don't participate, how can you complain or benefit from it'" she said.
As a combined Army leadership event, this is the third town hall meeting for the Kaiserslautern military community. It came about, said U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern Commander Lt. Col. Mechelle Hale, because the Army's senior mission commander here, Maj. Gen. Yves Fontaine, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command commanding general, wanted to be able to talk with families and hear their concerns.
"One thing that excited me the most was hearing that they are going to offer child care options while you go to the gym," Thomson said.
She knows Steve Pelletier, the garrison's Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, was referring to Army, not Air Force, fitness centers. "We are all family - It's just good to hear that other women are going to have that option to go to a gym and take their children," said Thomson, who was excited to tell her friends who are single parents and work on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Kids on Site is a short-term hourly child-care option at garrison facilities such as fitness centers and recreation facilities, as well as for conferences and meetings - like the town hall. This program is only one of the many new FMWR programs coming soon to the KMC.
Programs within programs is how one can describe The EDGE - Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel. Garrison Kaiserslautern has been chosen as the Army's test site in Europe for this pilot program, Pelletier said.
Another youth program coming soon is the UR HIRed program where children in sixth grade and above can work in FMWR apprentice positions throughout the KMC, not just garrison positions.
It's all "coming soon" to the KMC and still in the planning stages, said Pelletier, who gave a heads-up briefing to those who attended the town hall meeting.
He also talked about the recent agreement with the Air Force for its youth programs to honor the Army Family Covenant - a program that offers savings for child care and youth programs for deployed Soldiers' families.
Since the agreement, Pelletier cited these facts: deployed Soldiers' families enrolled at Air Force facilities saved close to $2,000 by November, while 46 children received child care at the covenant's 20 percent discount, and eight children received free sports programs.
About 20 subject matter experts on hand for questions from family members regarding their agency or organizations, such as the Defense Commissary Agency, Department of Defense Dependent Schools and Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
About 30 senior leaders from the 21st TSC, garrison and the Air Force also attended the town hall to hear the community's concerns.
Pelletier was one of four presenters giving briefings on new information from their organizations.
Another new garrison incentive is the KMC bus shuttle during duty hours for Army kasernes in East and West Kaiserslautern. These kasernes are LRMC, and Rhine Ordnance and Pulaski Barracks, and Daenner, Panzer and Kleber Kasernes.
The 90-day test period will start March 2. Tim Wood, the garrison's logistics director, showed the town hall attendees the tentative schedule for the shuttle.
"What has determined (the shuttle schedule) for us was the opening hours of the facilities that we are trying to get the Soldiers to like the dining facilities, and medical and dental clinics," he said.
Single, in- and out-processing Soldiers are the main focus for passengers of the shuttle service; however, Department of Defense civilians and family members can also ride the bus on a space-available basis, Wood said. He added that the KMC's child supervision policy applies.
(Editor's Note: Christine June writes for the USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)