Kaiserslautern sets standards at AFAP conference

Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

***image1***Changing Cost of Living Allowance calculations so that same-size
families receive the same amount was one of 17 issues brought up at the
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern 2005 Army Family Action Plan

Themed “Setting standards of Living for a Transforming Army,” the
conference was held Nov. 16 and 17 at the Armstrong Community Club on
Vogelweh Housing.

The brainchild of Army spouses, AFAP gives active-duty and retired
military, family members and civilian employees a chance to voice
concerns and raises issues to Army and Defense of Defense leadership.

Given the joint demographics of the KMC, Air Force members were also
delegates because they could provide input for changes in this
community, as well as within DOD.

“We had a record number of delegates,” said Robin Arnold,
Kaiserslautern’s AFAP coordinator.  “More than 70 delegates showed
up, allowing for six focus groups. Last year, we were only able to have
four (focus groups).”

This year’s groups were: community support and consumer services;
teens; Soldier support; medical and dental care and housing and public
Works; children and youth; and DOD and Department of Army civilians.

Each focus group brainstormed and decided on the top issues impacting
the KMC, DA and DOD. In addition, the groups decided on the most
important KMC services.  

These issues and services were presented to the 21st Theater Support
Command Deputy Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Phillip Thorpe and USAGK
Commander Lt. Col. Erik Daiga at the end of the two-day conference.

The USAGK Commander’s AFAP Steering Committee will determine which
issues are local and need to be worked here and what issues need to be
forwarded to the USAG Heidelberg conference.

Appropriate agencies will work on these local issues for about three
months, and then the USAGK Commander’s AFAP Steering Committee will
determine whether issues remain active, complete or unattainable.

Besides changing COLA rates, the Soldier support group wants the
Overseas Housing Allowance to mirror Government Service civilians
system of Living Quarters Allowance. They also want Temporary Living
Allowance reimbursement paid within 72 hours of invoice receipts.

The children and youth group’s top issue was for the Department of
Defense Dependent Schools to enforce the use of standard textbooks. The
delegates’ next recommendation was to hold administrators, teachers and
paraprofessionals accountable for performance standards. The last
recommendation was for all KMC childcare centers to open in time for
Soldiers to participate in morning physical fitness training.

Providing DOD-sponsored transportation throughout the KMC for wounded
Soldiers during off-duty hours and weekends was the top issue for the
Community Support and Consumer Services group. The group’s next
recommendation was to provide free fitness classes in all KMC fitness
centers. The last issue was to standardize fees for KMC youth sports

The top concern for the DOD and DA Civilians group was retention of
Family Readiness Support Assistants, who provide a link between Family
Readiness Groups and commands. The group’s last two recommendations
were for the DA to implement a tracking system to ensure supervisors
attend mandatory training and to have the nearest Civilian Personnel
Advisory Center service Global War on Terrorism hires.

The top issue for the Medical and Dental Care, and Housing and Public
Works group was direct billing to medical and dental facilities for
off-post medical costs of military retirees and family members. The
last issue was to require KMC dental facilities to see military members
and their families regardless of military affiliation and to allow them
to be seen at the clinic in the geographical area in which they live,
not where they are stationed.

The Teens group wants the KMC to organize and execute an annual career
fair for DODDS students. The next issue was to re-establish the DODDS
driver’s training course and offer it to juniors and seniors. The
group’s last recommendation was for KMC schools to organize and
initiate a student-run welcoming committee.

For questions regarding the Kaiserslautern AFAP program, call Mrs.
Arnold at 489-7521 or 0631-536-7521 or e-mail robin.arnold@us.army.mil.