PHOTO CAPTION: FORT SILL, Okla. -- Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, responds to a question from the attendees at the Reverse Army Family Action Plan May 17 at the Graham Resiliency Training Campus. This year's AFAP conference is Oct. 22-24 at the Patriot Club.
October 17, 2013
By Monica Wood
FORT SILL, Okla. -- The government shutdown and furlough of many civilian employees won't stop the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference from occurring Oct. 22-24 at the Patriot Club.
"I want everyone to know that the conference is still happening. The delegates have been selected from all areas of the community and they will have 28 issues to consider, discuss and brief to Fort Sill leadership at the AFAP conference closing," said Merilee Nevins, AFAP program manager. "The subject matter experts, the volunteers and the delegates are all ready to go."
Nevins said the closing ceremony is open to the Army community and is Oct. 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the Patriot Club.
"We have two workgroups who will work through the 28 issues. The issues are all solid quality-of-life issues this year," she said. "The Army community did an awesome job of submitting the issues in a clear, concise format as we requested. It will make it easier for the delegates to discern the need or concern and make their recommendations. I'm looking forward to the delegates having conversations on these issues and having an opportunity to effect real change as a community."
The delegates will make their recommendations to the Fort Sill leadership, which is represented by Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general; Col. Glenn Waters, garrison commander; and leaders from all the brigades, directorates and organizations across post.
Information provided through the AFAP process gives commanders and leaders insight into current quality-of-life needs of Army constituents. Leadership uses the information to effect changes that improve standards of living and support programs. These changes foster a satisfied, informed and resilient Army community.
"In the current situation, there are not a lot of opportunities to effect change. Because this is a grassroots program, the Army does not want it to go away," said Nevins. "We do have this unique and very productive program to create change and the Fort Sill leadership has been very supportive in making sure this conference will happen. It's a critical program and they want to hear from the community."
The AFAP is an Armywide program that allows all members of the Army including active duty, reserve components, and National Guard, retired military, family members and civilian employees, to identify issues of concern that impact the well being of the entire Army family. Through this process, all members of the Army have a forum to voice concerns to Army leadership and make recommendations for change.
Issues are submitted by community members and gathered to be considered by the delegates at the conference. Issues requiring actions are prioritized, assigned to a lead agency for resolution, and an action plan is established to achieve desired change.
"The AFAP provides a venue to hear the voice of the customer," said Nevins.
This August, the AFAP celebrated 30 years of grassroots advocacy. At its core, the AFAP gives the opportunity for Soldiers, family members, survivors, retirees and civilians across all Army components to identify, prioritize and elevate quality of life issues to senior leaders for action and resolution.
According to the AFAP organizers, more than 90 percent of AFAP issues are identified and resolved at the local level, and more than 61 percent of the issues worked at Department of the Army level impact all service branches.
Since AFAP was created in 1983, there have been 128 legislative changes, 179 Department of Defense or Army policy changes and more than 200 improved programs or services/funding. Some examples of AFAP successes are creation of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, establishing school liaison officers, development of the Army Family Team Building Program and increasing military annual leave carry-over.