FORT POLK, La. — Ever get frustrated when you feel like there’s a better way to do something? After all, there can be room for improvement, no matter the situation. If you have a suggestion, utilizing the Army Family Action Plan is your chance to improve the process for yourself and others.

AFAP is the voice of the customer. It’s a way for Soldiers, Family members, survivors, retirees and Department of the Army civilian employees to communicate with Army leadership about what works, what doesn’t and what they think will resolve the issues they have observed.

Since its inception in 1983, AFAP remains the only such partnership between a branch of the United States military and its constituents.

AFAP is the primary tool to communicate the important issues that give commanders and leaders insight into the Army population’s current satisfaction and expectations.

Leadership uses the information they get from AFAP to affect changes that improve quality of life and support programs. These needs remain in the forefront of Army senior leadership in an effort to foster a satisfied, informed and resilient Army community.

If you have an issue, now is the time to submit it to AFAP. Fort Polk’s AFAP conference takes place Nov. 15-16 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Warrior Center.

Though a few inputs have been submitted, AFAP is asking for more. The deadline for issues to be submitted is Oct. 25.

Leslie Fontenot Cormack, Army Community Service information and referral specialist, said issues must be broad because it’s not about one person’s specific challenge, but something that affects a large group of people.

“The issue needs to be something benefiting the Army Family as a whole,” Fontenot Cormack said. “It’s not just about me or you. It’s about issues that everybody can relate to.”

Criteria for issue submission includes:

•The issue has a broad impact and is within the scope of Fort Polk or Headquarters, United States Department of the Army.

•The issue is obtainable after considering the current political and resource environment.

•The issue has measurable objectives with an identifiable end product.

•Issues should focus on improving the quality of life for everyone.

AFAP issues may be submitted year round to the local installation ACS or online via the Issue Management System. IMS is a tool for submission and review of AFAP issues. Access to IMS can be found on the Army Family Web Portal at https://olms.armyfamilywebportal.com.

How to submit an issue:

•Complete an AFAP form and drop it by Army Community Service, 1591 Bell Richard Ave., building 920.

•Submit online at https://ims.armyfamilywebportal.com/.

The perfect example of how you can take your ideas and make a difference through AFAP is the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. The BOSS mission is to enhance the morale and welfare of single Soldiers to increase retention and sustain combat readiness. BOSS sponsors a variety of activities before, during and after deployment to maintain the morale of single Soldiers affected by increased operational tempo and deployment stress.

“It was an AFAP conference issue. It is an amazing program which continues to grow and impact single Soldiers. It’s huge,” Fontenot Cormack said.

With ideas like these, AFAP has been responsible for hundreds of legislative, regulatory and policy changes geared towards improving the quality of life for service member’s to enhance readiness and retention.

Since 1983, more than 714 issues have been submitted, resulting in more than 129 legislative changes, 190 Department of Defense or Army policy changes and 212 improved programs or services.

A few AFAP Results:

•Dedicated special needs space in Child and Youth Services

•Distribution of GI Bill benefits to dependents

•Extended education benefits for spouses

•Dental and vision insurance coverage for federal employees

•Military Thrift Savings Plan

•TRICARE for Life eligible retirees

•Active duty enlisted Soldier compassionate reassignment stabilization

•In-state tuition for military dependents

•Paternity leave

•Family member employment in the civil service system

•Convicted sex offender registry

•Audio/video surveillance in childcare centers

•Standard level of security measures in barracks

Fontenot Cormack said AFAP is important because if the community members have an issue or see something that’s not working, they can have a voice in changing things.

“The attitude says a lot about what the Army thinks about its people. It values them as a whole,” Fontenot Cormack said.

The issues gathered until Oct. 25 will be presented at the conference where delegates will discuss and evaluate them.

Members of the conference will then determine if they can be resolved at the Fort Polk level or need to be sent up to Installation Management Command and Headquarters, Department of the Army. Delegates for the conference include Soldiers, Family members, retirees and DA civilians.

Lucianne Buch, ACS mobilization, deployment and stability support operations program manager said the Soldiers and Family members are from all rank levels from enlisted Soldiers to officers.

“We want a mixture of all perspectives and views to get the best outcome,”Buch said.

Buch said AFAP is a crucial process.

“I think more people need to get involved in the program,” Buch said. “It’s a way for people of all ranks and structure — civilian or military — to participate, get involved in the community and make a positive change.”

For more information about AFAP call ACS at (337) 531-1941.