Nov 17, 2010
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 17, 2010) -- Army family members can now use the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness global assessment tool and all its online self-improvement modules without having a sponsored Army Knowledge Online account.
While family members have been able to participate in CSF for the past nine months, program participation required them to have AKO accounts. These accounts needed to be sponsored by a military member, which was cumbersome, according to the program's director, Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum. She said that's all changed now.
"We went through a lot of development and discussion and tried to loosen up the rules for AKO use, but that was not possible," said Cornum. "Family members can now get their own, unique ID, user name and password directly with the Soldier Fitness Tracker, so all they need to do is give their social security numbers once, because we now verify through [the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System]."
It's mandatory Army family members participate in the DEERS. The database includes more than 23 million records pertaining to Active Duty, Reserve Component troops and their family members.
Originally, enrollees needed to have AKO-sponsored accounts, but that was a problem, explained Cornum, because it was cumbersome and required being re-sponsored every 120 days at the expiration of an AKO password.
"You have to think up a new, unique, painful password and as you can imagine, people were not very excited about that because it could take you 15 minutes to complete the CSF global assessment tool, but two days to get an account. It just wasn't very user-friendly," Cornum said.
The CSF director encourages family members to participate in the program because she said family is often a large part of the solution to building and enhancing the other four dimensions of strength - the physical, emotional, social and spiritual.
The family version of the Global Assessment Tool is similar to the Soldier GAT, Cornum said, but added that it obviously doesn't ask questions that aren't relevant to family members, such as the perceived readiness of the Soldier's unit. Instead, it poses questions related to the readiness of the family in facing an upcoming deployment, such as "do you think your family is ready for the potential of your Soldier's deployment?"