WASHINGTON — A “Tenant Bill of Rights” to protect residents of private housing, full reimbursement of the cost of a do-it-yourself household move, coverage of much of the cost of a professional license for an Army spouse, new options for child care and health care—
These are a few of the achievements the Army’s Quality of Life Task Force can claim two years after the group was convened.
Senior Army leaders will discuss these and other topics at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Expo in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11-13.
“I’m very proud of the work the Quality of Life Task Force has accomplished over the past two very challenging years,” said Lt. Gen. Jason T. Evans, deputy chief of staff, G-9 (Installations).
“Even with a major pandemic affecting installation services, the team still managed to make major progress that will improve the quality of life for Soldiers and Families in significant ways,” he said.
Evans is among several senior leaders who speak at the AUSA Warriors’ Corner, in a session titled “Transforming Installations: The Army Installations Strategy,” Oct. 12 at 12:00 p.m. Later that day, Evans will also moderate the AUSA Family Forum III: Army Senior Leaders’ Town Hall, at 3:00 p.m. Sessions will be livestreamed on DVIDS.
Sooner or later, all Army Families have to move as part of a permanent change-of-station (PCS) order. Previously, those who did their own household PCS moves weren’t reimbursed 100%. This cost was a consistent concern for Soldiers and Families, so Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, empowered the task force to lead the process of changing the policy.
“Improving PCS moves was a consistent priority for us to address,” said Dee Geise, director of DCS, G-9’s Soldier and Family Readiness Division, who also leads the task force. “This change has already made a big difference for the finances of many Army families who choose to self-move,” she said.
In addition, once Families move to their new housing, they now have a Tenant Bill of Rights that outlines 18 specific rights they have as residents of privately owned housing. As another Quality of Life Task Force achievement, the document codifies expectations of housing quality like the right to access inspection records and timely repairs.
Implementation of all 18 rights across all 44 privatized Army housing installations is a significant achievement, noted Greg Jackson, chief of Army Housing in DCS G-9. It will help ensure residents have the information they need to fully understand the responsibilities of the privatized project company, as well as their own responsibilities under the lease, he said.
“In addition, it will make Soldiers and their Family members aware of the different advocates they have on the installation, if they have questions or concerns about their privatized housing,” Jackson said.
Many Army Families have a spouse who must maintain a professional license in order to gain employment in a new location. Doctors, nurses, attorneys, teachers, cosmetologists, physical therapists — all must maintain state licenses that sometimes don’t transfer automatically. Many times the new state requires an exam or registration fee.
To help with that cost, the Army now covers up to $1,000 of those fees—a change led by the Quality of Life Task Force. To date, the Army has spent over $157,000 to reimburse 390 spouses for exam, registration and other license fees.
For many Soldiers, being a parent is their other key mission—one that also comes with an increasingly high cost, especially when it comes to child care. The task force has helped address this cost through two new child development centers in Hawaii and one project in Alaska. Both are fully funded and now in the design phase.
Finally, work done by the Quality of Life Task Force led the Army to establish the Army Medical Readiness Assistance Program (AMRAP) COVID 19 Hotline—and to expand the Virtual Health platform to increase access to care for beneficiaries.
To find out more about these and other achievements to improve the quality of life for Army Families, follow continuing coverage of the AUSA Annual Meeting and Expo on the DCS, G-9 website, as well as Army.mil and Army social media.