[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                 February 13, 2009

Top 5 issues chosen at AFAP Conference

By Rob McIlvaine, FMWRC Public Affairs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Delegates from around the world winnowed down hundreds of suggestions at the 2009 Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference to recommend senior leaders address 16 new issues. Of those 16, five were chosen as the most important, and the General Office Steering Committee (GOSC) will begin addressing them during their next meeting.

The top five issues are:

Bereavement Permissive Temporary Duty (TDY)

A military leave category for bereavement does not exist. Multiple permissive TDY categories exist but none authorizes nonchargeable bereavement leave. Soldiers take chargeable leave or a pass in the event of the death of an immediate family member. Responsibilities associated with the death of a family member may require more time than accrued leave or a pass. Insufficient time for grieving the loss of a family member and administering responsibilities impacts the Soldier/family’s ability to mourn and recover from a traumatic loss.

The recommendation sent forward to Army leadership was to establish a permissive TDY category for bereavement.

Official Photographs for Soldiers

Official photographs are not required for all Soldiers. The Army only requires an official DA photograph at certain grade levels. In the event of a Soldier’s death, there is no official photo available to the media that provides a professional head and shoulder view of the Soldier with individual achievements. Personal photos have been used in the media to identify Soldiers, and inappropriate or grainy photos do not accurately reflect the professionalism of the Army or the Soldier. Having an official photo on file for all Soldiers would ensure Soldiers are portrayed in a dignified and respectful manner.

The recommendation sent to Army leadership is to mandate a professional-quality official or semiofficial head and shoulder photograph for all Soldiers.

Secure Accessible Storage in Barracks

A significant number of Soldiers residing in barracks lack sufficient secure, accessible storage for their Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) and personal items. The quantity and size of required issue items has increased dramatically due to personal safety items issued for deployments. Though newly constructed billets include accessible storage areas, the vast majority of existing barracks still lack this essential capability. Lack of sufficient secure accessible storage outside the Soldiers’ authorized living space negatively affects their quality of life by forcing them to live in overcrowded conditions.

The AFAP delegates recommended to Army leadership that the garrisons provide secure, accessible storage space for Soldiers’ OCIE in a location separate from living space.

Shortages of medical providers in MTFs

Demand for healthcare exceeds provider availability in military treatment facilities (MTFs). The Army’s projected growth will increase this demand. Statutes limit salaries, incentives, and contracts, limiting the effective recruiting and retention of medical providers. The lack of providers affects timeliness of medical services, and impacts Soldier medical readiness and the health of family members and retirees.

The recommendations to Army leadership were to expedite staffing of military, civilian, and contracted medical providers to support prioritized needs as identified by the MTF Commander, and to implement new strategies for recruiting and retaining medical providers for MTFs.

Availability of respite care

Standardized respite care is not available to all Wounded Warrior caregivers.

The lack of availability exists due to inconsistencies in areas such as: information, reimbursement, policy, personnel, and location. Caregivers of Wounded Warriors commonly suffer burnout and compassion fatigue.

A Soldier’s ability to sustain activities of daily living is directly associated with the well-being of the caregiver. The lack of availability of standardized respite care for these caregivers jeopardizes the caregiver’s stability and negatively affects the recovery of his/her Soldier.

AFAP delegates forwarded a recommendation to Army leadership to provide uniform availability of standardized respite care to all caregivers of Wounded Warriors.

The Army staff will identify the actions/plans necessary to determine how these issues are resolved, and ensure those actions take place if it can. AFAP issues require an average of three years to resolve.

Many require policy changes at the Department of the Army or Department of Defense level, and some issues require legislative changes in order to come to a resolution.

The GOSC meets two times a year to review the progress and status of current AFAP issues.

     (See Installation personnel attend Armywide AFAP Conference)

     (See AFAP attendees work together to improve quality of life)


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