Hawaii AFAP delegates address Army policies at conference

| November 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
Jennifer Rodriguez with ACS and delegates discuss changing Department of the Army policy to extend emotional intelligence training to military family members. During the conference, delegates drafted six proposed initiatives to send to the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

Jennifer Rodriguez with ACS and delegates discuss changing Department of the Army policy to extend emotional intelligence training to military family members. During the conference, delegates drafted six proposed initiatives to send to the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

Christine Cabalo
Staff Writer

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Changes to Armywide policy were placed in the hands of Soldiers and civilians at the two-day Army Family Action Plan Conference at the Nehelani, here, Nov. 15-16.

More than 40 delegates met to discuss how to improve the quality of life of the Army community, breaking up into smaller groups to refine the initiatives.

The Army Family Action Plan has spurred policy changes since it was created in 1983.

“We’re seeking issues through our website, and it’s ongoing year-round,” said Mary Ann Scott, AFAP program manager. “We’re looking at (Department of the Army) level issues. Right now, we’re soliciting any issues from anyone in wanting to make a quality of life change in the policy.”

With feedback from the program, there have been 186 revisions to the Department of Defense or Army policies and 128 legislative changes. The initiatives created through the process have included funding Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, amending the Thrift Savings Plan to include service members, and distributing Montgomery GI Bill benefits to military family members.

Jeanne Sablan transcribes possible solutions to concerns brought up by delegates at the AFAP conference held at the Nehelani, Nov. 15. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

Jeanne Sablan transcribes possible solutions to concerns brought up by delegates at the AFAP conference held at the Nehelani, Nov. 15. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

This year, the delegates came up with six initiatives they presented to senior U.S. Army Hawaii leaders. The suggested policy changes ranged from extending programs like Soldier for Life to eligible family members over 18 and adjusting Soldier evaluations. The conference is meant to address large-scale issues, but does assist delegates in finding help they may need for local or garrison-level concerns.

“The delegates come from various demographics,” Scott said. “This gives them the opportunity to work amongst each other to see where they can find a solution to the issue.”

Each of the smaller groups worked with facilitators, a dedicated transcriber and other Army Community Service personnel to draft specific suggestions citing Army regulations.

Being able to make and review proposals in a group was helpful, said Jennifer Rodriguez, a Family Advocacy Program specialist with ACS, but who also assisted her group’s delegates in drafting their initiative.

“The goal for volunteer delegates was to meet, hear each other, work the issues and brainstorm,” she said. “We’re able to use this time to address the others’ ideas, follow up and set up the protocol to answer an issue. (On the second day,) we finish up drafting, and one representative will present issues and our recommended change.”

During the two-day conference the groups also had the expertise of ACS personnel to further refine ideas. The groups could speak with the ACS subject matter experts directly on hand about current policies and practices.

Several delegates from this year's AFAP conference pose for a photo with their Certificates of Achievement on the last day of the conference, at the Nehelani, Nov. 16.Get more details about the program by searching in the top right search box for Army Family Action Plan at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website: https://hawaii.armymwr.com/pacific/hawaii. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

Several delegates from this year’s AFAP conference pose for a photo with their Certificates of Achievement on the last day of the conference, at the Nehelani, Nov. 16.Get more details about the program by searching in the top right search box for Army Family Action Plan at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website: https://hawaii.armymwr.com/pacific/hawaii. (Photo by Christine Cabalo)

After groups completed a draft proposal, Col. Mario Diaz, division deputy commander for 25th Infantry Division, spoke.

“Those that work at national level rely on us to provide details for what it means locally to make decisions and commit scarce resources,” he said.

Diaz then thanked the delegates for volunteering their time to refine policies that could improve conditions for Soldiers, their families and even other branches of the armed services. Diaz reminded the assembled delegates about President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech about engaging problems. He praised them for doing what the previous president encouraged everyone to do – to spend themselves in worthy causes.

“Thank you for not just being critics, but being in the arena, rolling up your sleeves to do the work,” Diaz said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Education, Leadership, News, Observances, Safety

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *