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Army Family Action Plan: Your Voice Makes All the Difference

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Feb. 10, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA), Gen. Dan Allyn, chaired the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC) meeting at the Pentagon.  The committee reviewed 14 active AFAP issues, two of which were designated as completed actions (Issue 681: Recoupment Warning on Department of the Army Form 5893 “Soldier’s Medical Evaluation Board/Physical Evaluation Board Checklist” and Issue 687: Active Duty Enlisted Soldier Compassionate Reassignment Stabilization) and left 12 AFAP issues in active status.

Since its inception in 1983, AFAP has provided a way for Soldiers and family members to let Army leadership know what works, what doesn't -- and what needs to happen to fix it.  AFAP, the brainchild of Army spouses, has reviewed 695 issues in its almost 32-year history.

At its core is 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.

In the past, AFAP conferences have been held at the local garrison level where issues were either handled locally or elevated to Army Commands, and if needed, to Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA). Among the highlights of the process was the opportunity for AFAP delegates from all components to be selected to attend and participate in the HQDA conference, held every year in Washington, D.C.

But in 2013, the process changed.  Due to budget constraints, the HQDA conference was discontinued. Today, the AFAP process begins at the installation AFAP conference, but now issues that are applicable beyond the local level are sent to Headquarters, Army Staff for issue review. Reviewed issues are sent to Command Focus Groups for selection of Issues to be brought before the GOSC at HQDA.

The fiscal reality of today’s military is this: Programs such as AFAP that rely so heavily on the perspective and experiences of its constituents must find innovative ways to continue the back-and-forth discourse with senior leaders. But AFAP is not a given. Installation budgets have dwindled and the garrison commands are making tough decisions on where dollars are spent.

AFAP should not be taken for granted. Your voice is needed and your participation is critical. Identify issues and be part of the AFAP process. Become a delegate, volunteer to help with your local conference, become familiar with current AFAP issues and share that information with your peers.

AUSA has always been a proud supporter of AFAP and will continue to be a strong partner in the process.  You too can make a difference. Let your local military leaders know you value the AFAP process. Your voice matters. Make sure you are heard.