AFAP 2012: Community matters

| November 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Part two of the two-part series looks at top issues concerning children, families on installation

Sarah Pacheco
Staff Writer

AFAP

AFAP

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The 2012 Army Family Action Plan conference concluded with a Report Out to garrison leaders at the Nehelani, here, Nov. 2.

Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, and his wife, Jeannine, opened the ceremony, telling the room of delegates and volunteers just how far-reaching the AFAP process is.

“Everyone has an AFAP story,” said Jeannine. “We are a community, (and) everyone is affected.”

She then discussed how downsizing within the Army during the past 18 months has affected priorities, which is “what AFAP has always been doing,” she said.

Indeed, the mission of yearly AFAP conferences is to examine the services and programs offered by the Army and prioritize those that are most valuable to the quality of life for Soldiers and their families.

AFAP delegates – Soldiers, retirees, Department of the Army civilians and family members who represent all areas of Army life – are then tasked with laying the groundwork necessary to resolve these issues.

“It takes a team to get this done,” said Heather Miles, program manager, AFAP; Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

According to Miles, many hours of work and planning go into the weeklong conference, which was held this year in Building 102 on Wheeler Army Airfield.

“In addition to the delegates, we have about 40 people working behind the scenes,” Miles said of those individuals who volunteered to be facilitators, recorders, subject matter experts and issue supportors for the six AFAP work groups.

“There are a million different opinions of what issue should be prioritized, and there are probably two or three different opinions per delegate on how to fix it,” Miles explained.

“As you bring subject matter experts in to answer questions, the focus shifts,” she continued, “so the facilitation team has to keep them focused, because you can lose a work group quickly. And then you have the back-staff who are editing the issues and making sure that they’re presentable and grammatically correct.”

The culmination of AFAP is the Report Out, when delegates get the opportunity to have their voices heard by the biggest names on the installation.

Report Out Issues

Out of 64 total submitted issues, 13 issues were briefed to senior leadership and prioritized in the following order of importance:
•Registered sex offenders living in Army housing;
•Availability of child care;
•On-post school safety;
•Referral process across Military Treatment Facilities, or MTFs;
•Expansion of vision coverage for beneficiaries;
•Dislocation Allowance, or DLA, not considering number of dependents;
•Prorated rent required at move-in for privatized Army housing;
•Army breastfeeding policy;
•Transferability of benefits between Non-Appropriated Fund, or NAF, and Appropriated Fund, or APF, employment;
•Inbound traffic at Schofield Barracks;
•Relocation services for teens;
•Lack of recognition/benefits for same-sex civil unions; and
•Community service opportunities available to teens on USAG-HI through a Teen Service Club.

Noting the heavy emphasis placed on support initiatives for families and children, Miles said, “These are issues that have been repetitive in the past – like the availability of child care (see “Child care availability” below for more), but the recommendations the delegates came up with weren’t repetitive. I think there were newer recommendations on how to solve the issues.

“A number of the recommendations also were for fixes at a garrison-level, but also were to make a bigger fix within the Army, which is a change. You usually see it either-or,” Miles added.

Any issues not resolved at the installation level will next go to the Major Command, where they again will be prioritized before being passed on to Headquarters, Department of the Army.

“It’s important how you prioritize issues,” Wiercinski said. “You tell us the priority, and that’s where we’re going. We’ve been successful because you’ve been smart with what we put forward.”

“Whether we think of it or not, we’re a service organization in the end,” added Debra Zedalis, region director, Installation Management Command-Pacific.

“Working for the Army is a team sport,” she continued. “No one does anything on their own. We’re servants and patriots. We’re all in this together.”

AFAP info

The Army Family Action Plan is the Army’s primary tool to communicate to leaders issues of importance and to improve the well-being of the U.S. Army family.

What began as spouse action groups now is a three-level process that covers all Army demographics and resolves issues at the installation, Command and HQDA level.

To date, 633 issues have been identified, of which AFAP has driven 107 legislative changes, 154 Army policy and regulatory changes, and 173 improved programs and services, including the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Temporary Lodging Expense, Earned Income Tax Credit and Servicemen’s’ Group Life Insurance.

To get involved and make a difference for families Armywide, call (808) 655-1703 or go online to www.himwr.com/getting-involved /army-family-action-plan.

The 2012 AFAP Conference Report Out also can be found online at this webpage.

To view other issues that have been submitted, resolved, remain open or have been closed, go to www.myarmyonesource.com and select “Army Family Action Plan” under the “Family Programs and Services” tab.

Child care availability

Child care availability has been an ongoing issue in Hawaii, according to Heather Miles, program manager, AFAP.

The Bowen Child Development Center on Schofield Barracks was built to increase child care spaces and resolve the issue for Army families; however, staffing shortages have prevented full utilization use of the center and its services.

“It’s the same problem, just a different reason why it’s a problem,” Miles said.

Miles encourages spouses seeking employment to take this opportunity to gain employment and resolve a top AFAP issue by applying for a position as a Child and Youth Program Assistant.

“This is a big deal,” Miles said, “and the community can help resolve this senior spouse issue.”

To learn more, go online to https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDe tails/321279500.

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Category: Community, Special Inserts

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