November 2, 2011
By Amy Guckeen Tolson, Staff Writer Redstone Rocket
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--For 23 years, Team Redstone has made a mission out of ensuring the installation and the Army are the best they can possibly be. This year was no different as individuals from across the Arsenal gathered to raise the standard of excellence a little higher.
The 2011 Army Family Action Plan conference, held Oct. 26-27 at the Officers and Civilians Club, gave members across the Team Redstone spectrum, including active duty Soldiers, Reserve, National Guard, family members, retirees, surviving spouses, Army civilians and tenants, the opportunity to come together to voice concerns and make recommendations to improve not just the Army quality of life, but the quality of life at Redstone Arsenal.
"Roll up your sleeves and really tackle the tough ideas, tackle the tough issues," Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton told attendees as the conference began. "No idea is a bad idea. Every single one of them is worth identifying and talking about."
Conference attendees broke into three separate groups, medical and dental, consumer services, and benefits and entitlement for two days, where they addressed the difficult topics affecting the Arsenal and Army's quality of life in regard to their specialty, and tried to identify ways to resolve those issues. Over the course of AFAP's 28-year history, 683 issues have entered the AFAP.
"The Army Family Action Program has changed, literally, changed things in the Army for the better," Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers, Redstone's senior commander, said. "The goodness in this is we all get to get together to see what's rubbing everyone wrong, and then we can talk about it. … That's the power of AFAP. It's important to us, it's important to Redstone, but it's also important to the Army. We capitalize the 'f' now, just like we do the Soldier, for 'family' because we want to emphasize it's all about taking care of the Soldier and their family, and that includes our retirees."
Each of the three groups presented one major issue they discussed at the conclusion of the conference. The Medical and Dental group recommended changes to the Tricare Dental Program, which they stated was complicated, not cost effective and carried too many out of pocket expenses. Recommendations included increasing the annual lifetime maximum for services beyond diagnostic and preventive care, as well as combining the four current beneficiary groups into one Total Army Family.
Consumer services cited not enough awareness in community about the activities and services available on Redstone Arsenal, and recommended authorized access to Channel 42, a commander's channel, to all Team Redstone employees, as well as the establishment of a command sponsored FMWR community partners board. Benefits and entitlement recommended the repeal of the decision to remove vehicle decals, citing security vulnerabilities. Re-implementing the decal requirement and reinforcing guard security training were some of the recommendations they offered with their concerns.
Arsenal leadership will review the list of remaining issues discussed throughout the two-day conference in the weeks and months to come. Those that need attention throughout the Army will be recommended for review, discussion and action at the Armywide AFAP conference.