By Stephanie Bryant, U.S. Army Garrison- Hawaii Public AffairsAugust 31, 2011
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- The Chief of Staff of the Army's Transition Team met with key leadership, here, Aug. 12, as well as conducted a family member forum to gather feedback from military families on Oahu about Armywide programs.
The Army wants to know how it can better support the Army family, and Hawaii family members provided their recommendations.
Taking time out of their day, 45 family members attended the family forum at the 1st Lt. Brostrom Community Center, here, to discuss and identify the programs they find useful and those that are not as valuable.
For some, the event was a chance to voice concern, and for others, it was a chance to congratulate the Army on a job well done.
Stacy Timmons, whose husband is assigned to U.S. Army-Pacific, and mother of three, was happy to share her opinion with Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, Transition Team officer in charge.
"The Army is doing a fantastic job taking care of its families, and I wanted to go to say that," she said. "But also, it gave an opportunity for senior leadership to hear from family members about concerns."
The forum provided a facilitated environment where leadership and families could exchange information and opinions freely.
Some concerns addressed were 20-year retirements -- to keep them as is; Soldiers' military
occupational specialties, or MOSs -- to ensure Soldiers work in the fields in which they receive training; and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs -- to add more adventurous events to the Family and MWR schedule, according to Amanda Koren of Army Community Service.
Some other programs mentioned during the forum included the Post-9/11 GI Bill, marriage retreats, medical care, housing, schools and the Exceptional Family Member Program, she said. Family members expressed a need for more drop-in child care options, more after-school support for EFMP children and adoption of a federal standard for military children who frequently transfer from one school to another, to avoid having to repeat courses.
As well, the transition team learned that the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP, should be maintained -- because it will be vital in today's economy.
"I want to make sure my husband and I are always up to date, so we can make informed decisions about our future," said Nina Elison, whose husband is assigned to 523rd Engineer Company, 84th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
"I walked away feeling like my concerns were heard, and I believe he will convey our message well," she said.
Special emphasis was placed on Master Resiliency Training and redeployment reintegration during the family forum.
U.S. Army Garrison--Hawaii's Child, Youth and School Services provided child care to participating families at no cost.