FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 28, 2022) -- Some people wish for change, and then there are those who help to make it happen.
Fort Drum community members can improve the quality of life for military families and make substantial change across the installation by participating in the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP).
Kelly Bice, Army Family Team Building and AFAP program manager, is inviting everybody to “Be the Change” by attending an event of the same name at the Post Exchange.
Community members can stop by the Be the Change information booth at the Post Exchange from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 3, 10 and 17, to learn more about AFAP, submit issues and register to participate in upcoming events.
“The Army Family Action Plan is an opportunity for Soldiers, family members, civilian employees and retirees to communicate quality of life issues to command,” Bice said. “It gives commanders a chance to solve an issue at the lowest level or elevate it and have it addressed at a higher level. It’s really a unique program that can bring about good changes.”
Fort Drum hasn’t hosted any AFAP events in the past few years, so “Be the Change” serves as a reminder for community members and encourage involvement.
“At the same time, there are people who are familiar with the AFAP process coming from other installations and they may have experience as facilitators, recorders and other volunteer positions,” she said.
For those who want to volunteer and have no prior experience, Bice said that they can attend a training event to learn the different AFAP roles and the skills required.
“This is a way for people to have a clear idea about what their roles are,” she said. “If they are not comfortable with it, then this is the time we can make changes in the group, because we want people to feel good about their ability to lead the group to some successful outcomes.”
Bice has a binder with more than 700 AFAP issues that have been addressed Armywide, dating back almost 40 years. She can track issues that were completed, issues that are still active and what progress has been made to resolve them, and issues deemed unattainable.
Historically, 90 percent of AFAP issues are worked at the local level. Since 1983, AFAP has resulted in hundreds of legislative and policy changes, and improved services and programs across the Army. For example, in 2002 the Military Thrift Savings Plan was established. School liaison officers were introduced in 2003. The federal hiring process for wounded warriors was implemented in 2011, the same year as the Department of the Army Civilian Voluntary Leave Bank Program launched.
Bice said that six issues have already been submitted to her office, and that was through word-of-mouth efforts to promote AFAP.
“And they are interesting ones too,” she said. “I believe we can make them actionable at some level. One was about nutrition and food security, which can affect a lot of military families.”
When people submit issues and concerns, Bice said they are sorted into six issue areas – Force Support; Family Support; Medical and Dental; Benefits and Entitlements; Youth and Education; and Transition and Employment.
Focus groups for each issue area are scheduled to meet early next year, leading up to an AFAP town hall in the spring. A second round of focus groups – potentially with all new members – will start in the summer and then AFAP will conclude with a final town hall in the fall.
Bice said that it is important to get participation from a broad spectrum of the community, and that includes military youths.
“Their input really makes a difference,” she said. “Teens came up with the program so that military families could request stabilization so that students did not have to move to a new duty station during their senior year. That helps with scholarships, prom, school credits and other things that are important to families.”
Bice will be talking about AFAP at the next Community Information Exchange, which will begin at 10 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Commons. The event is livestreamed at www.facebook.com/drum.10thmountain, and viewers can ask questions about the program online for real-time feedback. People also can contact Bice at (315) 772-6710.
The AFTB and AFAP office is located at the Family Resource Center, Bldg. 11042, Mount Belvedere Boulevard.