VILSECK, Germany -- Grafenwoehr held its annual Army Family Action Plan conference at the Multipurpose Center in Rose Barracks, Oct. 2-4.

More than 50 people participated in the conference, which included representation from Soldiers, family members, civilians and high school students.

AFAP is a grassroots process that helps identify and elevate quality of life issues that affect Army readiness and well-being. The information from AFAP gives leadership insight into quality of life needs, determines the level of satisfaction with programs and services, and explores how to better manage Army family expectations.

Col. Bryan L. Rudacille, commander of the Joint Multinational Training Command, welcomed AFAP participants to the conference and emphasized that the AFAP issues matter to the command. He said the issues presented through the AFAP have the potential to make a difference in the Army. Rudacille mentioned that the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program is an example of an idea that came from AFAP.

The AFAP process began locally with the collection of issues submissions. The Non-Advisory Committee decided which issues went to the conference and whether some issues would be better addressed locally through the Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) system and the community tracker.

At the conference, participants were placed into workgroups to develop, prioritize and recommend what they would like to see happen when the issue is resolved. The workgroups were further divided into the following categories: family support and employment; force support and entitlements; housing, relocation and child and youth services; and medical and dental.

Spc. Joshua Bishop from 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, participated in AFAP for the first time this year. He recommends that other Soldiers participate in AFAP.

"(Soldiers should) reverse how they think about it," said Bishop. "You get to voice your opinion against people who are not in the same role or predicament as you."

Each workgroup presented its prioritized issues to the command team. Kathy Aydt, USAG Grafenwoehr's deputy garrison commander, made closing remarks at the conference.

"I am very impressed," said Aydt. "It was fascinating to me to listen to all issues you were able to flush out that really have an impact in our Army Community."

The Commander's Steering Committee will meet next month to prioritize the issues and forward them to Installation Management Command-Europe AFAP conference.

Below are the issues, by workgroup, and their recommendations from the 2012 AFAP conference:

Medical and Dental Workgroup:
Issue 1: Upfront costs required for OCONUS retiree medical bills
• Require all Tricare network providers to bill Tricare directly for medical service provided to OCONUS retirees and their dependents.
• Require retirees to pay only deductibles and co-payments upfront.

Issue 2: Army-wide Breastfeeding Policy
• Implement an Army-wide policy or make additions to Army Regulation 40-501, Standards of Medical Fitness to include guidelines for breastfeeding Soldiers.
• Mandate appropriate facilities for breastfeeding and breast pumping at the work place.

Issue 3: FRSA Support for all Army units.
• Provide FRSAs for both deployable and nondeployable units.

Housing, Relocation, Child and Youth Workgroup:
Issue 1: Parental and student assessments for DODDS teacher and administrative evaluations:
• Create qualitative and quantitative evaluation forms for parents, students and other teachers to be included in each teacher's appraisal packet to be completed at the end of each course.
• These evaluations should be included in the overall teacher and administrative staff evaluations.

Issue 2: DODDS accredited driver's education program for high school students:
• Develop and implement a standardized in-school driver's education program to be offered as an elective for all DODDS high schools.

Family Support and Employment Workgroup:
Issue 1: Evaluation system for DODEA teachers' contracts:
• Update the DODDS and teacher union agreement to allow further evaluations to determine teacher proficiency.
• Implement student, parent and substitute teacher feedback when evaluating teacher proficiency for further contracting.

Issue 2: Mandatory new hire in-processing system and training for CPAC employees:
• Create standardized in-processing procedures and training for new civilian hires.
• Require CPAC employees to be proficient in conducting this training.

Issue 3: Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) employment preference for surviving spouses:
• Modify NAF hiring system to give hiring preference to surviving spouses.

Force Support and Entitlements Workgroup
Issue 1: Family member orientation
• Create and mandate a policy to establish an Army family member orientation program Army-wide.
• The policy should require command support to ensure that Soldiers are allotted time to facilitate their family members participation in the orientation.

Issue 2: Annual ethical standards training for all Army service members:
• Create and mandate annual ethics training for all Soldiers.