Comparable access to care for exceptional Family members at joint service assignments and permanent change of station/temporary additional duty priority in privatized lodging for Soldiers and their Families are the two top issues raised this year at the U.S. Army Military District of Washington’s Army Family Action Plan conference.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington commanding general, thanked the AFAP delegates for their intense three days of work at the conference and promised his support on presenting the issues to senior Army leadership.
“Things are changing in our country, and our Army is under the same financial constraints as the nation,” said Linnington. “We need to prioritize our goals to maintain the quality of life for our Families, and this program [AFAP] does that as well as highlight our Army's commitment to our Families.”
The MDW delegates recommended a Department of Defense mandate implementing one EFM program for all military branches be established. According to delegates, current EFM programs are inconsistent in their enrollment process, eligibility criteria and services offered across the military branches. This lack of consistency for EFM services causes breaks in continuity of care and overwhelming stress to the EFM and the Family.
Delegates also recommended that all lease agreements for privatized military lodging require priority availability for military personnel and their Families on permanent change of station or extended temporary duty orders. Delegates said military members and their Families have no priority in such lodging and as a result, military personnel are often forced to find off post lodging, transportation and absorb out of pocket expenses placing financial and emotional hardship on the member and Family during an already difficult transition time.
“When we say we want to hear your voice, we mean it,” said Diane Smith, IMCOM AFAP/Army Family Team Building program manager. “At these conferences, we show delegates not only how to prioritize their issues but also how to format those issues to ensure they are put in front of leadership.”
AFAP is the Army’s grassroots process to identify and elevate the most significant quality of life issues impacting Soldiers (all components), retirees, Department of Army civilians, and Families to senior leaders for action.
Information provided through the AFAP process gives commanders and leaders insight into current satisfaction detractors, quality of life needs, and expectations of Army constituents. Leadership uses the information to effect changes that improve standards of living and support programs.
In the over 25 years, AFAP has been operating, 651 issues have been adopted into the HQDA AFAP and have resulted in 112 changes to legislation, 159 changes to DoD and Army policy and 178 improvements to programs and services.
The AFAP is a year-round process that begins at the installation or unit level. It is the preeminent means for commanders at all levels to learn of and seek solutions to the concerns of their communities. The Army is the only service with a program like AFAP.