We're Listening: Improving Services to Our Military and Their Families
The President's commitment to improving support to military families remains a top priority for the White House. A year ago, under Presidential Study Directive-9, over a dozen federal agencies committed to nearly fifty initiatives to strengthen military families. Those efforts continue today.
One ongoing effort to support military families is the Army’s annual Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference. Last week, this conference brought together representatives from all across the Army to discuss issues important to Army families, Wounded Warriors, and Soldiers. AFAP gives Soldiers, retirees, family members and Army civilians the opportunity to communicate challenges and opportunities to senior leaders.
“Through the AFAP process and this conference, you identify quality of life issues to Senior Army leaders for action,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, commander, U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
Army efforts in this program benefit all service branches, with about 60 percent of AFAP issues applicable across the entire Department of Defense. Since AFAP’s inception in 1983, hundreds of positive changes affecting Veterans and military families have been implemented across all levels of government.
Last week, Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno spoke at AFAP. He explained that the Army is facing a drawdown of approximately 80,000 troops. Despite these changes, he assured conference attendees that the $1.2 billion allocated for Army family programs will remain unchanged -- there will be no reduction in military family programs. Odierno also emphasized the need to improve access to services while simultaneously measuring program effectiveness. To accomplish these goals, he talked about the importance of reaching out to civilian communities and making some programs easier to access via the Internet.
In concluding the conference, groups presented their most pressing issues to senior leaders. Top issues brought up during this session included extending the time allotted to invest survivor benefits and granting per diem for families to attend therapy sessions.
In attendance at the final session were not only senior military leaders, but also senior military spouses – because issues that affect soldiers also affect the families of soldiers, and military families have their own challenges and opportunities as well.
The President believes that we, as a Nation, have an abiding responsibility to remain unwavering and steadfast in serving those who serve our country. Initiatives such as AFAP ensure military families have the ability to voice their concerns. Federal agencies also continue to make efforts to ensure military families are taken care of. AFAP has helped us to identify top issues so that we can work on them first.
For more information about the AFAP program and the HQDA Conference, visit the AFAP website, on Army OneSource at www.myarmyonesource.com
Rosye Cloud is Executive Director of the Performance Improvement Council and Member of the White House Task Force on Veterans and Military Families