‘A Chance to Change Tomorrow’

Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

***image1***About 80 volunteers are needed for the 415th Base Support Battalion’s 2004 Army Family Action Plan Conference, “A Chance to Change Tomorrow,” held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 19 and 20 at the Armstrong Community Club, Bldg. 1036 in Vogelweh Housing.
“It is important for members of the community to volunteer for this year’s AFAP Conference because AFAP allows the KMC to raise issues that deal with their well being and impact their quality of life,” said Robin Arnold, the 415th BSB’s Army Community Service AFAP coordinator. “Basically, it’s a chance to say what is and what is not working, as well as how to fix it within the KMC, Department of the Army and Department of Defense.”

The brainchild of Army spouses, AFAP is an Army-wide program that gives all members of the Army team – active-duty and retired military, family members and civilian employees – a chance to voice concerns and raise issues to Army leadership.
“I would tell members of the community to become involved in the AFAP conference if they are unsatisfied with any policy that currently exists in the Army,” said Army Master Sgt. Ann M. Wyant, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Department of Pathology NCOIC, and who has volunteered at four AFAP conferences. “They are all subject to change through this process.”

Although AFAP is an Army incentive, the 415th BSB encourages Air Force active duty, government employees and family members to be a part of their conference because KMC is a joint community with Army and Air Force living and working together, and because some of the issues brought up at AFAP conferences can make changes to DOD policy.

AFAP success
Since the program began in 1983, action plan issues have become Army or DOD policy, raising more than 500 issues resulting in 82 changes to legislation, 130 revised policies and 140 improved programs and services.

The Federal Thrift Savings Plan was initiated at an action plan conference, as was the expansion of TRICARE Prime Remote to active-duty family members. In addition, Service Members’ Group Life Insurance increased from $50,000 to $250,000, and Basic Allowance for Housing was increased by 11 percent.

Locally, the KMC Military Family Housing, 435th Civil Engineer Squadron, changed procedures to better inform residents of upcoming maintenance projects. The Kid’s Zone on Pulaski Barracks became a reality due to an initiative started at the 2001 conference.

How it works
Delegates will form seven focus groups to come up with recommendations for the Army to fix the top issues facing the KMC. This year’s work groups are Community Support and Consumer Services, Teens, Soldier Support, Health and Dental Care, Children and Youth, Housing and Public Works, and DOD and DA Civilians.

Each focus group comes up with three top issues impacting the KMC. In addition, the groups get together and decide on the three most important KMC services. The list of the top issues and services are given to the 415th BSB Commander Lt. Col. Erik O. Daiga.

The issues that cannot be addressed locally will then be forwarded up to higher levels. Each BSB has a local conference. Their issues are passed to the Europe-wide conference, which will prioritize their issues and pass them to the DA conference.
Within the DA conference, there is a General Officers’ Steering Committee, headed by the Vice Chief of Staff for the Army, which resolves the top issues from the previous year’s AFAP.
“The changes that have occurred since the start of AFAP has significantly made huge differences in how the Army supports the force, the ‘total’ force,” said Linda A. Slaughter, ACS’s AFAP action officer.

Status of last year’s issues
Non-chargeable leave for deployed servicemembers was one of the recommendations made at last year’s conference. The 26th Area Support Group and the Installation Management Agency-Europe prioritized this issue and forwarded it to the DA conference, which will take place Nov. 15 to 19 in Washington, D.C.

Another issue was giving active-duty members and their career DOD civilian spouses the same consideration for joint assignments as is currently given to dual military couples. The 26th ASG conference prioritized this issue to the IMA-E conference who did not prioritize it and returned it to the 415th BSB conference coordinators. This issue will be reintroduced at this year’s local AFAP conference.

Two issues from last year’s conference were returned to the 415th BSB from the 26th ASG conference, and they will also be reintroduced at this year’s local AFAP conference. These issues are:

1. Having more volunteer organizations that are able to give out child care pre-paid vouchers to their volunteers.
2. Increased PCS entitlements for Soldiers who are deployed on temporary change of station orders.
KMC members can check this Web site http://www.goacs.org and then click on “AFAP” for a record of active AFAP issues and whether or not, those issues have been resolved.

Issue boxes
Members of the community can bring forth their issues to the conference by filling out proposed issue worksheets located at central places on Pulaski Barracks, LRMC and Kleber Kaserne.
They can also e-mail the AFAP coordinator at robin.arnold@us.Army.mil.
For more information or to register for this year’s AFAP, call Mrs. Arnold at 489-7521 or 0631-536-7521.