Army Family Action Plan delegates prioritize top issues among Europe communities

June 8, 2012

By Staff Sgt. Brooks Fletcher, U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

Keeping heroes active
Deputy Regional Director Col. Anthony Haager with Installation Management Command-Europe address the audience during the "report out" brief of the 2012 U.S. Army Europe mid-level Army Family Action Plan conference held in Heidelberg, Germany, June 7. Over the weeklong conference, a 16-delegate committee comprised of active duty Soldiers, Family members, civilian employees and retirees, tackled and discussed the 26 top issues and problems.(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brooks Fletcher)

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- “You must be the change you wish to seek,” said Deputy Regional Director Col. Anthony Haager with Installation Management Command-Europe, referencing a quote by Mahatma Ghandi. “…that’s what you all are doing here.”

Five quality of life issues from communities throughout the U.S. Army in Europe where selected to move forward for further review, concluding the 2012 U.S. Army Europe mid-level Army Family Action Plan conference, June 7.

Over the weeklong conference, a 16-delegate committee comprised of active duty Soldiers, Family members, civilian employees and retirees, tackled and discussed the 26 top issues and problems. These issues are:

  • -Meal Card Holders' Basic Allowance for Subsistence Entitlement
  • -Sexual Orientation as a Protected Category Under Equal Opportunity
  • -Portability of Benefit from Non-Appropriated Funds to Appropriated Fund Position for Department of Army Civilian Employee
  • -Department of Defense Education Activity High School Credit for Sports Participation
  • -Sexual Assault Restricted Reporting Option for Diversity Advisory Councils
  • “The importance of this conference is just hearing what the Army Family has to say about certain issues prioritized by the garrison communities,” said AFAP Conference Coordinator Jennifer Murphy with USAREUR G-1.

    AFAP, an Army Community Service program, allows members of the community the opportunity to raise issues that affect and impact their quality of life. AFAP issues from the field provide a snapshot of the well-being concerns of Soldiers and families. AFAP aims to improve standards of living for Soldiers, families, all military personnel and DoD employees.

    Master Sgt. Carl Carbin with from NATO Headquarters located in Chievres, Belgium, a first-time AFAP delegates and participant, who was introduced to AFAP by his wife, believes having a Soldier in the committee is important to the delegation of the proposed issues.

    “It’s important that this program receives insight from a Soldiers perspective,” Carbin said. “In any organization, you want feedback on what’s going on at the ground level, from the people that experience it firsthand. It allows the leadership to have eyes on what’s going on in its command.”

    Haager echoed this exact sentiment.

    “Grassroot action is something that Americans get excited about,” Haager explained. “Creating change from the bottom up is in the DNA of every American and look at where we are today.”

    From brainstorming to studying information sheets and receiving assistance and guidance from  the subject matter experts, the committee ensured that all issues where addressed and discussed thoroughly.

    Diane Isla, a volunteer with ACS Kaiserslautern, worked at the Facilitator, Recorder, Transcriber, Issue support at this year’s conference and understands the significance of being a delegate.

    “Being a delegate is a very important job. Their role is the meat of the conference,” said Isla, who has worked in AFAP since 2006, serving as a delegate and working with AFAP in Okinawa, Japan. “As long as the issues are being discussed and reviewed accordingly, that’s what’s important.”

    For Claudia Adolph, an Army spouse from 414th Contracting Brigade out of Vicenza Italy, she said that anything that gets her more involved in the Army Family is important to here.”

    “If people don’t voice their opinion, leadership will not be made aware and issues will not resolved or changed,” Adolph said. “It’s all about quality of life for the Soldier and Family.

    Murphy explained that the conference ends with the delegation committee briefing the USAREUR commanding general in a “report out,” however, this year Haager stepped in to hear the committee champion their top quality of life issues.

    “That shows the level of the joint relationship between IMCOM-E and USAREUR,” Murphy said. “It shows the importance of AFAP and all of the issues that are resolved through AFAP.”

    Many of the benefits that are available to Soldiers, Family members and DA civilians have came as a direct result of these AFAP conference.

    “It has changed our military way of life. There have been so many things that have come out of AFAP,” said Isla, regarding previous AFAP issues like thrift savings plan, transferring you G.I. Bill, and paternity leave. “Now that the conference is a well oiled machine, you can see that the issues are more specific, which means [AFAP] is evolving.”

    Issues considered for further review are presented to the USAREUR leadership during an executive steering committee held this fall.

    “Ultimately, these issues and concerns have the potential of going to the conference at HQDA and be seen by the vice chief of staff of the Army. That is a big deal,” Murphy added.

    Haager challenge delegates to continue to be leader’s of their communities.

    “Your time and energy is so important because AFAP is not something that happens two days out of the year, it happens every day.” Haager concluded. “We all have a stake in the world we live in and you are all part of a very powerful process.”

    About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned to advance American strategic interests across Eurasia and has unparalleled capability to prevent conflict, shape the environment and, if necessary, win decisively. The relationships we build during more than 1000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance global security.