By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 10, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Having a voice is an important part of sparking change, and each year Fort Rucker leadership provides the community a voice by providing a forum for issues and ideas to be heard.
Community members from across the installation came together for the Army Family Action Plan Conference Nov. 2 where they discussed issues and recommended solutions to help better improve the quality of life for people on the installation, according to Vernon Johnson, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator.
The conference was a one-day focus group forum that was comprised of different groups tackling 26 different issues that people submitted, said the coordinator.
"People's concerns and ideas were submitted and groups took the time to select the top-priority issue, then spent time going over the issues and coming up with possible solutions for each issue," he said.
Some issues that were discussed included mandating reporting with child, youth and school services, a central issue facility and equipment service ability.
Each group decides what will be the top issue that will be worked during the conference, and once decided, they come up with a title and scope for the issue. They then finish up by coming up with recommendations on how each of the issues might be resolved or implemented.
Although many issues were discussed, none of the issues this year were elevated past the garrison level, but that doesn't mean each issue was resolved during the conference, said Johnson.
"The issues that were discussed will still be worked at the Garrison Commander Steering Committee, which will happen in December. From there, the different issues will go out to different agencies throughout the installation to be worked out," he said.
Johnson said this an important process because it gives the community a chance to voice legitimate concerns or changes they wish to see not only on their installation, but even Army wide if the issue is big enough.
During last year's conference, numerous recommendations went forward to improve quality of life for Soldiers, family members, civilians and retirees, including the garrison pilot mentoring program for employees.
In 2012, the No. 1 issue at the Army-level AFAP conference began at Fort Rucker, which dealt with the issue of Survivor Investment of Military Death Gratuity and Service Member's Group Life Insurance and the time allotment of 12 months to be increased to 36 months.
It's because of AFAP and the forum that it provides that gives people on the installation a chance to spark real change, said Johnson.
"The importance of AFAP is that it gives the community a voice, so that senior commanders can understand what is happening on the installation," he said. "It's also a grass-roots process for the quality of life issues that affect Soldiers, retirees, DOD civilians and survivors, so it's very important that everyone in the community is a part of the process.
"AFAP represents the ability of the community to speak for its members, and effect change within itself and the Army, as a whole," said the coordinator. "It allows the community to verbalize problems and produce solutions for those issues."