By Kerstin Lopez (Fort Carson)September 15, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Issues and concerns related to Fort Carson were discussed and prioritized during the annual Army Family Action Plan conference Sept. 7-9.
The three-day AFAP event held at the Elkhorn Conference Center focused on topic areas such as health services, children and youth services, education, benefits and entitlements, force support, leadership, sponsorship, family support, employment and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation consumer affairs.
Patricia Randle, Army Community Service director, said the AFAP conference affords an opportunity for the Army community to voice its concerns and issues.
"Today is a perfect day to have issues. We are going to get at those issues, those concerns that we have that can impact future generations," Randle said.
Col. Robert F. McLaughlin, garrison commander, said Soldiers, the civilian workforce and retirees work together during the AFAP process because input from the community as a whole is the best way to identify problems and come up with solutions.
AFAP, now in its 28th year, is a quality-of-life forum that provides the Army community access to Army leadership. It identifies and recommends solutions to Soldier and Family-generated issues that affect the quality of life of the total Army Family, said Nathaniel Nugin, Family Enrichment Program manager and AFAP event coordinator.
"The Army Family Action Plan is an annual conference to discuss quality of life and standard of living issues that may take effect Armywide. The AFAP is a grass roots level process that identifies issues of the global Army Family. The process is designed to ensure maximum participation of America's Army Family at all levels of the chain of command, this includes all ranks, civilians, military, youth and retirees," Nugin said.
Research shows that 95 percent of issues raised at these conferences can be worked toward resolution at the local installation level. Issues that cannot be solved at the lowest level then get moved up to higher levels, Nugin said.
"Local issues, those primarily or solely impacting the Fort Carson community, will be staffed for resolution at the local level. Issues such as No. 3, privatized military housing rental rates, is one that may demand resolution at a higher echelon. The next two levels are U.S. Forces Command and Department of the Army."
Work groups consisted of a mix of first-time participants and seasoned AFAP veterans. More than 50 issues were presented to the groups at the start of the conference and the top five issues were identified during the three-day event. Participants also had the opportunity to vote on the top four most valuable services on the installation. Nugin said the conference went well and the comments received were overwhelmingly positive.