By Rob Schuette, Fort McCoy Public AffairsFebruary 12, 2009
Finding solutions to issues that affect military and civilian members of the Fort McCoy community often can help other installations and vice-versa, said Fort McCoy's delegates to the Department of the Army (DA) Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference, which was held Jan. 26-30 at Alexandria, Va.
Rebecca Wingo and LeAnn Clark said the AFAP program, which is unique to the Army, has given a forum to its members to voice and seek solutions to their issues.
The program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has an exceptional track record.
Of 633 issues, the AFAP process has completed 435 issues, found 118 to be unattainable, combined in 107 legislative changes, 154 policy changes and 173 improved programs and services.
Clark and Wingo said the format of the DA AFAP Conference allowed for good discussion of the issues. Attendees did not wear military uniforms, so personnel did not know the ranks or pay grades of the personnel discussing the issues in their work groups, only their names and what installations they represented.
"It leveled the playing field and allowed everyone to feel their input was important," Clark said.
The process doesn't only help or address family issues.
For example, Soldiers in barracks have very small living spaces - about the average square-footage of a jail cell - and a lot of military gear to store, Clark said. A solution to the issue is to give them more storage space.
"After participating in both Fort McCoy and the DA AFAP conferences, I gained a real appreciation for the process. If you have a quality-of-life issue that you would like to see changed, complete an AFAP issue form and submit your issue for consideration," Wingo said. "If it needs to be changed, it will be looked at."
The conference also gave them a chance to network with other attendees, as well as meet and brief senior Army leadership about issues, she said.
Clark said the top topics that were picked for priority consideration might occur at any Army installation.
"If you think you're only one person and can't change anything, you're wrong," she said.
As both Fort McCoy delegates surveyed the issues they noted how there were issues that affected everyone from Fort McCoy up through the active-duty installations, including Forts Drum, Hood, Bragg, Lewis, etc.
Wingo noted one issue brought up for discussion would increase the amount of temporary lodging expense time personnel making a PCS move would have from 10 to 20 days.
"This would give personnel more time to find a decent home, good schools for their children, etc.," she said.
The event also included a youth working group, which, among other concerns, brought up the issue of having consistent educational standards between the installations so students didn't have to repeat classes.
Anyone who wants more information about the AFAP process at Fort McCoy or has an issue to submit, can call Army Community Service (ACS) at 608-388-3505 or visit the Web site http://www.mccoymwr.com and click on ACS Schoolhouse and AFAP.
The site includes an issue form and also an updated listing of installation AFAP issues.