By Spc Jennifer Brady/10th PCHMay 10, 2012
The Army Family Action Plan conference is a method of highlighting issues in today's Army community, but to the surviving spouses, wounded warriors, retirees, Soldiers and spouses in attendance, it is so much more. It is a forum for these groups to resolve the issues impacting them and to improve the value of Army life as a whole.
"This conference is a great way to bring our Army community together and talk face-to-face about the issues that impact all of us," said Melissa Seamands, 15-year AFAP volunteer and spouse of Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, deputy chief of staff, G1, FORSCOM.
"We have a very diverse group in attendance and that's important because the Army needs to get feedback from the people who are being affected by these issues."
After a week of deliberation and heated discussions, delegates from Forces Command installations across the U.S., who categorize issues and recommend solutions, presented the top eight critical issues to Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commanding general, FORSCOM.
During the discussions, delegates were separated into four groups to include Family support/civilian, force support, medical/dental/TRICARE and child, youth and school services/wounded/survivor. Each issue had to meet specific criteria, creating many challenges for delegates throughout the week.
"Things got heated in my conference group as we tried to tackle exactly what the issues are and what verbiage to use when presenting them," said Sgt. Danielle Day, delegate, Fort Bliss, Texas.
After long days of deliberation, each group had the opportunity to present their top two critical issues.
Rodriguez listened intently to each issue and of the eight issues, AFAP delegates voted on the five issues that should be presented to the Department of the Army.
5. Family support/civilian: Access to Exceptional Family Member Program enrollment and services
4. Child, Youth and School Services/Wounded/Survivor: Army Officer/Warrant Officer Candidate School applicant requirements
3. Medical/Dental/TRICARE: Department of Defense Form 2792 (Exceptional Family Member Medical Summary) Updates
2. Force support: Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transfer eligibility
1. Medical/Dental/TRICARE: Travel authorization for the non-medical attendant /caregiver
The hard work of these delegates over the week has the potential to positively affect the lives of many people.
"The U.S. Army is the only branch of service with this kind of program, but all of the branches benefit from the changes made here, and that's what AFAP is doing, it's impacting change positively," said Seamands.