YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- The Eighth Army commanding general is encouraging maximum participation in the upcoming Korean Peninsula-wide Army Family Action Plan Conference here, at the Dragon Hill Lodge, April 3-7.

Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, Eighth Army commanding general, said the conference will enable leaders to take action on issues that directly affect the morale and quality of life of Soldiers, civilian employees and family members in Korea.

"This conference will allow us to take the pulse of the peninsula and determine what we can do to make life better here," said Johnson. "This conference is an opportunity for our people to voice their concerns and propose concrete solutions to specific issues."

Supported by Installation Management Command-Korea, Eighth Army hosts the annual AFAP Conference.

Command Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Winzenried, command sergeant major for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea and Eighth Army, called on every unit to support this year's conference.

"This is your chance," said Winzenried. "Make sure to take full advantage of it by sending your best people to represent your units at the conference."

Designed to improve retention and quality of life, AFAP is the primary tool the U.S. Army uses to address unit-specific and service-wide issues. A grassroots program, the Army Family Action Plan has led to many changes, including 112 legislative changes, 159 Department of Defense or U.S. Army policy changes and 178 improved programs or services.

Local improvements include extended shopette and commissary hours, Yellow Dust warnings, military retiree dental care overseas and off-post home access to the Armed Forces Network.

"Ours is not an easy profession and it's equally difficult for the families who support us," said Johnson. "Our people are what make the U.S. Army the greatest in the world and we owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay. But with the Army Family Action Plan, we can listen to their concerns and do our best to address them."