By Ignacio Rubalcava, USAG BaumholderNovember 8, 2011
BAUMHOLDER, Germany, Nov. 8, 2011 -- Doing away with the civilian five-year rule, converting contract positions to GS positions, home-based business restrictions and overcrowding in single Soldier housing are just a few of the issues concerning the Baumholder community.
These are four of the 17 issues brought up at the local annual Army Family Action Plan conference Oct. 19 and 20.
Army Community Service collected issues from community members before the conference and handed them out to the five working groups which discussed each issue and presented their recommendations during an outbrief to Brig. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, 21st Theater Sustainment Command commander, and Lt. Col. Sam McAdoo, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder commander.
This year the conference featured a working group comprised entirely of single Soldiers who addressed issues related specifically to them.
"This is the absolute, most powerful program, I think, in the United States Army," Piggee told the delegates."
"I think that if you look at the results, which I think is the true testament and measure of any successful program, there is no other program in the United States Army that can match the results of this program, and it's all because of you and your predecessors. What a great and wonderful thing," said Piggee.
The 17 issues prioritized by the USAG Baumholder community are:
• Local availability for American College Testing
• Poorly maintained on post recreational equipment and venues
• The lack of education on social issues between peers
• Giving civilians the option to file a restricted report under SHARP
• Priority placement in regards to diversion of Soldiers with Exceptional Family Member status
• Allow off post residents access to Directorate of Public Works and the Self-Help Store
• Restricted reporting option for DoD civilian and family member victims of sexual assault
• Civilian GS employees five-year movement requirement rule
• Converting small contracts to temporary GS positions
• Restricted use of Armed Forces Europe resources in home based businesses for Soldiers, family members, and DOD civilians in Germany
• Vehicle extended warranties in OCONUS locations
• Timeliness of new release movies for Soldiers and military families
• Lack of Tricare coverage for chiropractic services for spouses and retirees
• Parks for dogs in Smith and Wetzel Kasernes
• Protection of sexual orientation discrimination under EEO/EO
• Overcrowding in single Soldier housing
• Eliminate mandatory meal deductions for Soldiers
"I think a lot of the issues here, if funds are available, will be able to be resolved at the local level. Not all of them, because we are in a financially restricted, constrained environment. But as we have opportunities like these to identify what we think are the most important and critical issues, those are the ones that we'll get resolved," said Piggee.
He explained that some issues are really difficult such as trying to change the Status of Forces Agreement.
"You can live a lifetime before you change the SOFA, but that doesn't mean you can't try," he said.
"There are no issues that are too difficult that you should not bring up and I think you did that," he said. "I am extremely pleased and proud to have had an opportunity to listen to your issues today and we'll take these up to USAREUR, and hopefully we can see some positive results of some of the things you guys brought up today."
The Army Family Action Plan is a grassroots, Army-wide initiative which allows the entire Army Family including Soldiers, retirees, Department of the Army civilians, National Guard, Reserves and family members, the opportunity to tell Army leadership what is working and what isn't and what they think will fix it.
AFAP alerts Army leaders to areas of concern that need attention and gives them the opportunity to quickly put plans into place to resolve the issues. Local installations host AFAP forums annually. The Army family identifies issues which they believe are important to maintain a good standard of living.
About 90 percent of AFAP issues are retained and worked on at local levels, resulting in ongoing community improvements. Issues beyond the local level are forwarded to Headquarters, Department of the Army. There, delegates from across the Army determine which issues will be addressed in the AFAP. Issues that are selected for the AFAP are worked toward resolution by a board of key DoD and Army staff general officers and senior executive service representatives.
The board reviews the progress of AFAP issues on a semi-annual basis and makes the final determination on the status of all issues. They review each issue to decide if it is resolved, unattainable, or needs to remain active until the issue's stated objectives are met.