|By Rob McIlvaine, Family and Morale, Welfare and
Recreation Command Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. — ID cards for
children of deceased Soldiers was the No. 1 issue raised this year at
the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference.
Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Installation
Management Command commanding general, addresses attendees at
the Department of the Army Army Family Action Plan Conference
held Jan. 28-Feb. 4 at Arlington, Va.
(U.S. Army photo)
After a week of discussion in working groups, AFAP delegates reported to
Army leaders on the five most-critical issues to be focused on this
summer. Those issues include:
• Formal standardized training for designated caregivers of wounded
• Medically retired servicemember’s eligibility for concurrent receipt
of disability pay (CRDP)
• Military child-development program (MCDP) fee cap
• Medical retention processing two-time (MRP2) restrictions for
On hand for the final day’s announcement of the top-five issues were
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Sgt. Maj. of the Army
Kenneth O. Preston.
Also on hand were Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli,
along with commanders of the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) and
the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command (FMWRC).
Chiarelli asked delegates to identify any redundant programs on their
installations and to tell Army senior leaders that they should look to
adjust or eliminate them.
“We need your help,” Chiarelli said. “After 10 years of war with a
budget of over $140 billion, no group of servicemembers and Families has
ever been asked to do so much. But as I talk to my staff, I know that we
can’t get many of the things we are counting on without getting our
financial house in order.”
Issues identified at the conference will be focused on by members of the
General Officer Steering Committee. The top five will be addressed this
summer and the remaining issues will continue through the committee
Survivor ID cards
The No. 1 issue, brought up by Family Support II Work Group and which
received the most enthusiastic response when announced, was AFAP Issue
52-11 — “Identification cards for surviving children with an active-duty
This issue affects children who have dual military parents and one
military parent dies. It also affects children who have a surviving
parent that remarries a servicemember. The children’s ID in this case
only shows the active-duty status of the remaining active-duty parent,
with no “survivor” designation, making their access to survivor benefits
This issue was raised by Survivors Outreach Services (SOS) at their
third-annual summit in October 2010. This summit also marked the first
time for SOS to work on AFAP issue development.
The work group recommended that both dependent-survivor status and
active-duty status on survivor children dependent ID cards be annotated.
AFAP Issue 19-11, announced by the Education and Awareness Work Group
and receiving about the same enthusiastic response when announced, was
“Formal standardized training for designated caregivers of wounded
Designated caregivers frequently suffer from stress, frustration and/or
burnout, which may lead to wounded warrior abuse and/or neglect. Formal
training on wounded warrior abuse and/or neglect awareness and
prevention provided to the designated caregivers at the first
continental U.S. medical transition point could reduce this risk and
speed the recovery process.
The work group recommended that formal, standardized, face-to-face
training for designated caregivers of wounded warriors be implemented.
Training would include self-care, stress reduction, burnout and
prevention of abuse and/or neglect.
Other top issues
The No. 3 issue was about medically retired servicemembers’ eligibility
for concurrent receipt of disability pay. The work group recommended
elimination of the 20-year time-in-service requirement for medically
retired servicemembers to be eligible for CRDP.
The next issue involved a fee cap for MCDP services. The work group
recommended establishing an MCDP cap of 25 percent of the military
Family’s total Family income. This will minimize financial hardship
caused by the disparity of the gross-income-to-childcare-cost ratio,
The fifth issue involved medical retention processing time restrictions
for reserve-component Soldiers. The work group recommended extending the
MRP2 time restriction for National Guard and Reserve Soldiers from six
months to five years of release from active duty.
Of the 88 issues that made the trek from their local commands to the
intense, annual week-long AFAP conference, the five issues chosen by
work-group delegates were pared down from 16 for presentation to Army
AFAP delegates consist of active-duty Soldiers, National Guard and
Reserve troops — including officers, enlisted, junior and senior
noncommissioned officers — Family members, civilian employees and
retirees — both military and civilian.
Chief of Staff, Army
Before the announcement of the top-five issues, Casey thanked IMCOM
Commander Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch for all the energy and commitment given by
his employees to serve Soldiers and their Families.
After 62 years as a member of the Army Family, Casey said that he’s
pleased to see how far the Army has come in treating its Family. No
longer is it “making the best of it,” as he said his mom told them when
they followed their father, Maj. Gen. George W. Casey Sr., across the
“I started saying back in 2007 that the Army was out of balance,” Casey
said. “We knew what we needed to do, so we’ve been working very hard to
get it back in balance. I can tell you that we’re finally at the point
where we can start to breathe again.
“We’ve increased the Army by almost 90,000 Soldiers since 2007 and that
has begun to impact the amount of time that Soldiers can deploy. We’re
down to about 50,000 Soldiers in Iraq from 150,000 and that has had a
huge impact on Soldiers and their Families.”
As a result, he said, by Oct. 1 of this year, Soldiers will deploy one
year out and two years back for the active Army and one year out and
four years back for the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
“This is a huge impact on the quality of life for Soldiers and their
Families on the installations,” Casey said.
Casey and Preston both were attending their final AFAP because of their
upcoming retirements. As a surprise, retired Sgt. Delano Smith and his
wife, Melissa, presented each with an award on behalf of all the
delegates and to thank them for their continued support of AFAP.
Vice Chief of Staff, Army
Following the presentation of the top-five issues, Chiarelli told the
audience that no matter what his schedule, he would not have missed this
AFAP. In fact, he has never missed one in the three years he’s been the
Army vice chief of staff.
On identifying efficiencies in the budget, he said, “It’s so much more
powerful when those ideas come from you, than we here in the Pentagon
sit there with a sledgehammer, trying to make those adjustments before
somebody comes down and makes the adjustments for us.
“The waste that you see out there that we can’t see from in here, you
can help us as we go through the next rotation of AFAP toward next year
to identify some of them.
“You’re the ones living this every single day. When you go back to your
place of duty or your home, feel free to contact me directly about the
things you see out there where we may be able to find some efficiencies.
“Thank you for coming here and really open up our eyes to what’s
affecting you, and we promise that we will take these issues and work
them hard, so thank you, very, very much,” Chiarelli said.
(See related story.)