|By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
Installation Management Command
In March, I discussed the progress
we made resolving 17 of 40 quality-of-life issues at the Army Family
Action Plan (AFAP) General Officer Steering Committee held in February.
During the same week, AFAP delegates representing Army garrisons and
commands worldwide met in our nation’s capital to review and prioritize
88 quality-of-life issues that had been identified throughout the year
at midlevel AFAP conferences across the Army.
As the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and the
overseer of the AFAP process, I had the privilege to speak to these
delegates and impress upon them the great responsibility of identifying
the most-critical issues for the Army to work. Delegates were comprised
of Soldiers, Spouses, Department of the Army (DA) Civilians, Wounded
Warriors and Survivors. Each brought their own ideas, perspectives and
experiences to share in the decision making process. The task before
them was not an easy one, yet they met the challenge with an
overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and energy. They reviewed, they
discussed and they challenged each other on the issues. At the
conclusion of the conference, 16 new quality- of-life issues were
identified and reported out to senior Army leadership.
The top five issues identified to senior Army leaders are:
• ID cards for surviving children with an active-duty sponsor that
annotate both active- duty and Survivor status
• Wounded Warrior caregiver training
• Medically retired servicemembers’ eligibility for concurrent receipt
of disability pay
• Military Child Development Program fee cap
• Medical retention processing time restrictions for Reserve Component
Currently, there is no way to annotate both dependent Survivor status
and active-duty status on an identification card. This issue affects
dependants of dual military parents when one military parent dies or
children of a surviving parent who remarries a servicemember. This may
cause undue emotional stress when Survivors must justify their Survivor
status in order to qualify for Survivor specific services. The delegates
recommend ID cards annotate both dependent-survivor status and
active-duty status to ensure Survivors quickly receive all available
Delegates also recommend providing caregivers of Wounded Warriors formal
standardized training on self-care, stress reduction, burnout and
prevention of abuse/neglect. Without this training, caregivers may
suffer from caregiver fatigue, which ultimately may lead to neglect of a
Wounded Warrior or damage to the Wounded Warrior and caregivers’
relationship. The implementation of formal standardized, face-to-face
training for designated caregivers of Wounded Warriors is critical to
those who help heal our nation’s heroes.
The elimination of the 20-year time-in-service requirement for medically
retired servicemembers to be eligible for concurrent receipt of
disability pay (CRDP) also was identified as an issue to be worked this
year. The CRDP eliminates the offset between retirement pay and Veterans
Affairs (VA) disability compensation.
Removal of the 20-year restriction would restore the full retirement pay
and VA entitlements to the medically retired servicemembers with less
than 20 years of active service.
Some military Families using Military Child Development Programs pay
greater than 25 percent of their total monthly Family income for
The recommendation is to cap program fees at 25 percent of the military
Family’s total Family income.
Lastly, Medical Retention Processing for Reserve-Component Soldiers is
limited to six months from their date of release from active duty.
However, medical conditions resulting from active-duty service are not
always visible within the first six months of release from active duty.
Extending the medical retention processing to five years would allow
Reserve-Component Soldiers to receive proper medical treatment.
The remaining 11 issues identified by the AFAP delegates are Survivor,
Medical, Family Support and Civilian personnel issues. I encourage you
to learn more about these new issues by visiting the Army OneSource
addition, you can follow the progress on all issues that are currently
being worked by selecting “Active Issue Search” at the bottom of the
page and then search by issue number or keyword.
The website allows you to submit a new issue directly to your garrison
or unit AFAP process, and provides AFAP brochures, articles and videos
to download. You also can download the “HQDA AFAP Issue Search”
application for free on your iPad®, iPhone® and iPod Touch®.
As I have said many times before, our Army will not break because of its
Soldiers but it will break because of the stress placed upon our
Soldiers and their Families. Never before have we asked so much of our
Army Families. Because of this, the Army will continue to fully fund and
staff Army Family programs and keep our promise of providing Soldiers
and Families a quality of life that is commensurate with their service.
In order to ensure the promise is always kept, we must continue to
identify inefficient, redundant or obsolete programs and services so we
can redirect those resources to where we truly need them. I challenge
each of you to help us in this endeavor. In the near future, I will
communicate to you where and how you can help.
Moving forward, the AFAP process will not only be the identification of
quality-of-life issues, but also the identification of potential offsets
to resource those quality-of-life issues.