Army Family Action Plan Celebrates 40 Years

By Chester Curtis, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinessNovember 14, 2023

Did you know you have a voice in the Army? Did you know that you can submit issues that are affecting your quality of life and they will be heard by Army Senior Leaders?

During the recent Association of the United States Army national meeting, the newly confirmed Chief of Staff of the Army General Randy A. George, encouraged commanders to survey their Soldiers and Family members to see what improvements are needed in their local communities and advise how the Army Senior Leaders could help.

GEN George was providing a shout out for an effective program that is the voice of the Army people and has been in place for years – 40 years to be precise – the Army Family Action Plan or better known as AFAP.

“AFAP is an Army grassroots program that engages Soldiers, Family members, Survivors, Retirees, and Department of the Army Civilians across all Army Components to identify, prioritize, and elevate quality of life issues that cannot be resolved by their command and requires HQDA resolution,” said Brent Jurgersen, Senior Leader Engagement Division Chief, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness. “It is the Army’s primary tool to communicate to leaders’ issues of importance.”

The AFAP mission, which originated in 1983 because of a White Paper signed by Army Chief of Staff General John A. Wickham, is to help Army leaders address the needs and concerns of the total Army Family. The program uses representatives from the total Army Family from around the world to identify issues that will improve the Quality of Life for Soldiers and Families. This feedback to leaders provides for policy changes that become tangible end-products for the Army Family. AFAP beneficiaries include Soldiers, Survivors, Retirees and Department of Army civilian employees and all their Family members.

Since its inception in 1983, 775 issues have entered AFAP. These issues are placed into the following six categories:

·      Soldier Support

  • Family Support
  • Military Health Care
  • Civilian Support
  • Retiree Support

·      Survivor Support

Of the 775 issues, 564 have been resolved and have resulted in 130 pieces of legislation change, 203 policy changes and 230 improved programs and services.

Some examples of legislative changes because of AFAP process includes paternity leave, chiropractic treatment for Active-Duty Soldiers and spouse professional weight allowance. A few of the policy changes include the: Indefinite ID card for spouses aged 65 and older, basic living allowance for Family member victims of domestic violence, sexual assault restricted reporting option for Department of Army Civilians, and Family member employment in the civil service system.

Improved services examples include the honorable discharge for AD primary child caregivers other than birth mother, license reciprocity, certification and licensing of military and civilian spouses and audio/video surveillance in childcare centers.

Submissions are ongoing throughout the year and new issues are collected each year by March 15. Issues are generated through many venues such as: Town Halls, Focus groups, Army Teen Panels, Command Courses, and Conferences. HQDA AFAP validates the issues and Army staff research and prepare Information Papers on each issue. These information papers are then sent to AFAP GOSC Commands for prioritization from which the Top 18 issues (three from each category) are submitted to the VCSA for approval.

“The AFAP process addresses the demands of Army life by identifying and resolving quality of life issues that affect the readiness of our people,” according to Jurgersen. “I believe in the AFAP process; Army Senior Leaders believe in the AFAP Process.”

“I have been part of the AFAP process for almost 30 years, first as a Soldier, and as a Civilian at the Installation conducting AFAP Conferences and now at HQDA,” said Jurgersen. “I have seen issues resolved that have positively impacted the lives of our Army people. These are wins which make a difference in the lives of our Army family and improve the Army experience.”