By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 19, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- No idea is too big or too small for the Fort Rucker Army Family Action Plan -- officials want to hear them all.
The AFAP Focus Groups Forum, scheduled for Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Wings Chapel, provides an opportunity for the community's collective voice to be heard and to collect ideas for streamlining processes and improving Fort Rucker's quality of life, according to Vernon Johnson, Fort Rucker Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, said.
"It's important for the community to continually voice their concerns and opinions about their quality of life, so senior military leadership knows what the concerns are (and can) prioritize critical issues so as to work resolutions and give updates on progress of submitted quality of live issues," he said. "The process for submitting a concern is done a couple of ways. Throughout the installation, AFAP issue submission boxes are posted along with submission forms. Individuals can fill out a form and place it in the box at a later date."
Johnson added that individuals can contact the AFAP program manager at 255-1429 or visit http://rucker.armymwr.com/us/rucker/programs/army-family-action-plan/ and click the "Submit Your Quality of Life Issues" dropdown menu to voice their concerns.
"Submitting concerns involves communicating with Army Community Service or going online to Army OneSource to submit issues on the AFAP page," he said. "Those issues then go through AFAP volunteers and are presented to four different focus groups of delegates at the event.
"Those groups will select the top priority issue to be worked, then spend several hours discussing the issue as a group for different solutions," he added. "The top issue for the group is briefed at an out-briefing to the command and delegates, and then presented to all of the delegates. Afterwards, these problems and solutions go to headquarters for discussion and implementation."
In addition to submitting ideas for potential discussion during the forum, individuals may also offer support through volunteerism.
"There are a number of volunteers in place for the upcoming focus groups," Johnson said. "These volunteers will undergo specific training to assist with facilitation of the focus groups, recording the discussions, transcribing the issues, assisting with the process when a subject matter expert is needed, and working behind the scenes to vet the issues and ensure they are not currently being addressed or have not been addressed in the last three years.
"Volunteers for the focus groups are not in a role to speak on the issues being discussed," he added. "Delegates have been assigned through the various units on the installation and these delegates will speak on the issues that have been collected for this year's focus groups.
"If an individual registers for the AFAP focus groups forum as a delegate, they will work the issue in one of the four different working groups," Johnson added. "The registered delegates are the ones who present the issues in the forum. Other registered personnel in the forum are the subject matter experts from the different organizations on the installation. SMEs participate by explaining why a policy or procedure exists, and may be able to give history on an issue or give advice on a recommended solution."
According to Johnson, the conference represents the voice of the community and provides a fresh look into its members' needs.
"AFAP represents the ability of the community to speak for its members, and effect change within itself and the Army as a whole," he said. "It allows the community to verbalize problems and produce solutions for those issues."
During last year's conference, numerous recommendations went forward to improve quality of life for Soldiers, family members, civilians and retirees. In 2012, the No. 1 issue at the Army-level AFAP conference was started at Fort Rucker.
"Significant progress has been made on the issues from last year's AFAP," Johnson said. "Some of the issues from the FY 2017 focus groups that have been resolved include installing row markers in the commissary parking lot, improved maintenance of the RV storage lot and improvement of the Pregnancy PT Program. Other issues that are pending resolution include installing new traffic lights with a lighted crosswalk feature and ensuring there is a playground appropriate for children with special needs in a more central location."
According to Johnson, any issue or concern that affects the quality of life of the Fort Rucker community should be submitted.
"Issues concerning the quality of life of the Fort Rucker community as a whole and going beyond the personal level are issues that should be submitted to AFAP -- these are problems that should be dealt with by the community and perhaps by the Army as a whole," he said.
Issues with a facility or particular organization should be reported directly to the commander or manager of that facility or online via http://ice.disa.mil/.
Individuals interested in volunteering should contact Johnson at 255-1429. A list of volunteer positions is listed under the Volunteer Management Information System tab via Fort Rucker> ACS> AFAP on myarmyonesource.com.