By Ms. Susanne Kappler (Jackson)October 18, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Delegates representing various constituent groups on Fort Jackson came together last week to develop a list of issues and recommendations at the fiscal year 2013 Fort Jackson Army Family Action Plan conference.
The issues discussed were submitted by community members. The delegates identified the top concerns and formulated proposals. At the end of the conference, the issues were presented to Fort Jackson leadership.
Next, the prioritized issues will be forwarded to the TRADOC AFAP conference, where delegates leaders will decide which concerns to forward to the Army level.
"AFAP is very, very important to our Army and as important to Fort Jackson," said Brig. Gen. Bryan Roberts, Fort Jackson commanding general. "Systems like this that the Army developed for us to execute and implement ... will help us get to the quality of life that I'd like us to have here at Fort Jackson."
Twenty-two issues were discussed during the threeday conference, with topics including benefits and entitlements; housing; child and youth concerns; employment; consumer services; facilities and roads; and medical and dental concerns.
The delegates, which included Soldiers from active and Reserve components, single Soldiers, civilian employees, family members, and military retirees, split into two workgroups.
The first workgroup discussed issues concerning medical support and benefits and entitlements. The group's spokeswoman, Tiffiney Jones, said the top two concerns forwarded by the group were the postpartum leave policy for service members and the medical age of consent for family members.
Jones said the group recommends the establishment of a new leave policy authorizing two weeks of chargeable leave for postpartum service members, immediately following convalescent leave. The second issue addresses the fact that the medical age of consent varies from state to state. The group proposed creating a federal law that establishes 18 as the medical age of consent for military family members who seek treatment from DoD providers.
The second workgroup focused on Soldier and family support. The group identified its top two issues as selection of single parents for the drill sergeant program and enforcement of the Total Army Sponsorship Program.
Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Townsend, the group's spokesman, said the long hours required to carry out drill sergeant duties may lead to parenting and child care issues for drill sergeants who are single parents. The group recommended excluding single parents from the drill sergeant program selection, unless the Soldier wants to serve as drill sergeant.
The second issue concerns lack of enforcement of the Total Army Sponsorship Program, which may impede the integration of new Soldiers into a unit. The group proposed implementing and enforcing Total Army Sponsorship Program registration before a Soldier's permanent change of station.
In addition, the Teen AFAP spokesperson, Zania Bell, said that Fort Jackson teenagers recommended increased activities at the Fort Jackson Teen Center and stabilization for military teens as their top issues they would like to see addressed by leadership.
The representatives briefed the issues to Roberts and Col. Michael Graese, garrison commander. Roberts expressed his thanks to the delegates and said quality of life was a Number One priority for Fort Jackson leadership.
"We're going to do everything humanly possible for our constituency here, and we're not going to blame (issues) on not having money," Roberts said. "Where we don't have the money to do what we want to do, we'll be innovative and do what we can."
The status of current issues may be tracked at www. fortjacksonmwr.com/acs_afap.