Defender 6 sends: Army Family Covenant commitment endures

| October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch
Commander, Installation Management Command



WASHINGTON — Four years ago, the Army announced the Army Family Covenant, or AFC, which promised to provide Soldiers and families a quality of life commensurate with their service.

To help Soldiers and families stressed by years of war, the Army substantially increased funding for programs in areas such as Soldier and family services, behavioral health, housing, child care, education and employment.

Today, headlines about defense budget cuts are prompting people to ask whether the Army is going to keep its promises.

The short answer is yes. Leaders change and situations change, but the Army’s commitment to Soldiers and families endures.

Under the AFC, the Army developed and enhanced a range of programs that build Soldier and family strength, resilience and readiness. These programs include Survivor Outreach Services; Child, Youth and School Services; the Military Spouse Employment Program; Strong Bonds; and the Wounded Warriors Sports Program.

The Army has also provided new and renovated housing for thousands of families and single Soldiers, and it has constructed more than 150 new child care and youth centers. The Army has increased the number of Military Family Life Consultants (who provide confidential non-medical counseling for Soldiers and families) and the number of behavioral health care providers (who provide services before, during and after deployment).

Under the AFC, the Army has worked hard to reach the whole Army family, including geographically dispersed Soldiers and family members. The Army supports a number of services away from installations, such as community-based child care and Army National Guard Family Assistance Centers, and provides Army OneSource, which enables 24/7 access to information and services, regardless of location.

The AFC has been the catalyst for enhancing and standardizing the quality of support for Soldiers and families. Now is the time to ensure our investment has made a difference in the lives of Soldiers and families.

Program review has been built into the AFC from day one. It has always been part of the AFC plan to assess program effectiveness, to consolidate and make adjustments, and to ensure there is no overlap or gaps between programs.

The current fiscal situation does not change our course, but it does put more gas in our tank. It intensifies the need to streamline and make sure we continue to provide the most valuable programs.

For the programs under the AFC umbrella, the majority of which are run by Installation Management Command, customer feedback is a critical part of our ongoing evaluation. We gather customer feedback by looking at which services are used most often and by asking customers about their experiences through focus groups and surveys.

We will be asking for feedback again in January, with the Army OneSource AFC survey, when Soldiers, family members, civilians and retirees will receive a survey on their needs, usage and satisfaction with Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. I urge everyone to take this and every other opportunity to tell us about the programs and services that are valuable to you. Your feedback impacts decisions about programming.

Like every other government organization, every business and every family, we are taking a close look at our use of resources during this time of fiscal uncertainty. We have to determine the most efficient, most effective ways to reach out to the entire Army family and provide support in the areas of greatest need. But we are starting from a clear, nonnegotiable bottom line: The Army will keep its promise to Soldiers and families.

Support and Defend. Defender 6.

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