By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Installation Management CommandOctober 5, 2011
SAN ANTONIO -- September's Army Family Action Plan review session showed progress on the top-priority 2011 Army AFAP Conference issues, including survivor identification cards and child care fees.
The session also identified adjustments to AFAP that will better align the process with the Army's cost culture.
Every month I meet with subject matter experts from across the Army to review the status of issues submitted through the AFAP process to determine if they are achievable. This review session focused on the 16 new issues identified by AFAP delegates during the February 2011 Army AFAP Conference in Arlington, VA.
The top issue identified to senior Army leaders during this year's conference was issue No. 667, which recommended that ID cards of surviving children with an active duty sponsor annotate both active duty and Survivor status.
Surviving family members have been required to present both an active duty ID card and survivor status documentation to receive Survivor services. The requirement for additional documentation often resulted in emotional stress for Survivors, as it caused them to relive their loss.
To address this concern, the Department of Defense Human Resources Activity has authorized the use of a "dual status" over-stamp on ID cards of surviving family members. Business processes are now being put in place to ensure correct implementation throughout the Army.
Another AFAP success story is the work toward resolving issue No. 671, which seeks to cap military child development program fees at 25 percent of a Family's total income. The Army Child and Youth Fee Policy will require that families who pay more than 25 percent of their monthly income for childcare be immediately informed of the financial hardship waiver process and provided information on how to apply at registration. The projected date for this policy change is Nov. 1.
To track this or any other issue, visit the Army OneSource website at https://www.myarmyonesource.com/familyprogramsandservices/ and search by issue number or key word.
While we are making progress on some issues, such as 671 and 667, others are unachievable due to current fiscal constraints. As our funding shrinks, we have to be even better stewards of our resources and ask ourselves three fundamental questions: Do we really need it? Is it worth the cost? What are we willing to do without?
These questions must become part of our culture as we move forward in this period of reduced resources. Therefore, the Army now requires that new issues introduced into the process be accompanied by the estimated cost and a recommendation to offset the cost. We strongly encourage those who have suggestions for improving the quality of life for the Army community to continue to submit new issues, but with an eye towards how their suggestions can be paid for.
Our bottom line is clear: the Army's commitment to Soldiers and Families endures. How we get to that bottom line changes with our resources. AFAP continues to play a vital role in identifying what is important to the Army community, which is critical to how we decide to make the most of our resources.