By Sarah J. Schmidt, USAG Schinnen Public AffairsMarch 5, 2009
SCHINNEN, the Netherlands (March 5, 2009): The U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen Army Family Action Plan Steering Committee reviewed 16 issues compiled from more than 79 suggestions collected during the weeks leading up to the Tri-Border AFAP Conference, held here last month.
Of the 16 issues produced at the conference, the committee will now forward 10 to Installation Management Command-Europe for consideration at the upcoming European AFAP Conference in June. The committee decided the remaining issues could either be worked locally or were already under higher headquarters review.
Trudy Wheatley, USAG Schinnen's AFAP Coordinator, came away pleased with the results, saying: "There were many good issues that came out of this year's AFAP. Certainly, some of these are worthy of higher review and could ultimately produce changes that benefit us all."
One such issue came from the teen working group at the AFAP Conference, Wheatley explained. The group suggested that military ID cards reflect "student" status on the face of the cards. This would enable teens to take advantage of student discounts and other benefits available only to students with proper identification.
Another hot topic was the issue of military spouse preference and government hiring policies. This resulted in two separate but related issues that will be forwarded to IMCOM, according to Wheatley. The first suggestion is to revise hiring policies so that compensation is disclosed up front in government hiring. The second suggestion is to allow some flexibility in the military spouse preference hiring category so that spouses do not lose their preference status if they turn down a job before the compensation is disclosed.
"These issues represent the efforts of 43 AFAP delegates and countless other individuals throughout the tri-border region who took the time to submit comments or suggestions and allow the AFAP process to work those concerns in an environment where positive changes can result," Wheatley said.
All branches of the armed services were represented at this year's AFAP, along with dozens of civilians, retirees and family members, plus representatives from geographically separated units at Rotterdam and Rheindahlen, Germany.
Now in its 25th year, AFAP brings together members of military communities for annual conferences to discuss and offer solutions for issues impacting quality of life. Recent AFAP Conferences have produced tangible improvements in local services and communication.
Last year's Tri-Border AFAP identified a funding issue that affected the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. That issue was raised to the Department of the Army, which is now reviewing the policy and considering revisions. "That just shows AFAP really works," Wheatley says. "Issues we identify here potentially affect military communities across the board."