By Britney Walker, U.S. Army Forces Command Public AffairsMarch 18, 2011
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (Mar. 18, 2011) - The U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) 2011 Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference concluded Friday with the selection of five quality-of-life issues for referral to the senior leaders of the Army's largest organization for further consideration.
Hosted by the FORSCOM G-1 Well-Being Division with participation by 48 delegates from across FORSCOM's units nationwide, this year's conference was conducted March 7-11 in Atlanta.
The Army Family Action Plan is the Army's premiere program to improve the quality-of -life for the total Army Family. Through AFAP, all members of the nation's senior military service, including Active, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers, Family Members, retirees, surviving spouses and Department of the Army Civilian employees have a forum to voice their concerns to Army leadership. It also provides a process for them to make recommendations for change.
This year, the delegates had to prioritize the issues that came in through the AFAP process from FORSCOM units nationwide during calendar year 2010. The delegates were divided into five workgroups and tasked to organize the list of issues into five categories:
- Benefits and Entitlements,
- Child, Youth and School Services,
- Family Support/Civilian Issues,
- Force Support,
- Medical and Dental.
Each workgroup then was assigned a category to evaluate. The delegates spent days two through four of the conference evaluating and prioritizing the varied issues.
Ultimately, each group selected its top two issues, making 10 that went forward for a final vote by all the delegates. After that vote, the following five issues were presented to FORSCOM's senior leaders at conference's closing ceremony for further consideration and possible action.
The top five FORSCOM AFAP quality-of-life issues are as follows:
- ISSUE 1: Sex offenders residing in government provided housing, including leased housing.
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Implement a policy for Department of the Army (DA) and the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) to restrict convicted sex offenders from residing in government-provided housing, including leased housing and permit Garrison Commanders the authority to approve exceptions to policy when a sex offender is not prone to violent or predatory acts.
- ISSUE 2: Dedicated licensed civilian counselors for grief support for survivors.
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Assign a dedicated, licensed civilian counselor who specializes in grief support to accompany the Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO) at the time of the initial visit to the Survivor. Provide follow-up counseling sessions by the dedicated, licensed civilian counselor as requested by the Survivor.
- ISSUE 3 (Part A): Spouse Preference Employment Eligibility in the Federal Civil Service System
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Abolish the two-year limitation for spousal preference in the federal civil service system for spouses married to service members who have become incapacitated or who died, while on active duty. Extend eligibility for spousal preference for spouses of active duty service members from two to five years from the permanent change of duty station (PCS) date.
- ISSUE 3 (Part B): Active component Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY), during Individual Dwell Time (IDT)
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Extend the standard calculation of dwell time to include Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments of more than 31 days.
- ISSUE 4 (Part A): Standardized training for the Exceptional Family Member Program's (EFMP) Program Managers (PM) and School Liaison Official (SLO)
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Require EFMP staff and SLOs to complete formal training about local, state and federal education laws and the rights of military children with special needs in relation to education.
- ISSUE 4 (Part B): Soldier Assignment Management Process
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Mandate a system/policy that requires direct contact between Human Resource Command (HRC) assignment managers and Soldiers within five working days of the initial Soldier contact. Restore full functionality of the Assignment Satisfaction Key (ASK) and the Assignment Interactive Module (AIM) to give Soldiers an active voice in managing their careers.
- ISSUE 5: Investment of Service members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Death Gratuity funds for Survivors
CONFERENCE RECOMMENDATION: Amend the HEART Act to extend the current time period to invest Soldiers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Death Gratuity funds in Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and in the Coverdell Education Savings Account from 12-24 months.
"AFAP is important to us - not just this week, but all year long," said Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, FORSCOM's deputy commanding general and chief of staff. "As we look at what you've done here, it is tremendous."
The next step in the AFAP process rests with FORSCOM's senior leadership and staff to evaluate the top five issues to determine which of them can or cannot be resolved at the Army Command level. Issues that cannot be resolved at the FORSCOM level are elevated to Department of the Army level for further evaluation through the ongoing AFAP process.
"The issues you have recommended have impressed me," said Bromberg. "They are not only timely, but thoughtful and significant. I know it wasn't easy to come to these outputs, so I thank you on behalf of the FORSCOM command team," said FORSCOM's deputy commanding general.
Complete coverage of the week-long conference is available on FORSCOM's online AFAP Conference Resource Center.