|By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
Installation Management Command
A fundamentally different fiscal reality. We will be hearing some
variation of that phrase from Army leaders for a long time to come.
The Army’s budget is smaller than it has been in previous years, and
it will get smaller still. However, a different fiscal reality does not
change the reality of what we owe to Soldiers and Families for their
service and sacrifice. The Army’s commitment to Soldiers and Families
remains as strong as ever.
For the last 18 months, the Installation Management Community has been
taking a hard look at the programs and services we provide to Soldiers
and Families, with an eye not only to costs but also to effectiveness.
As the inevitable belt-tightening comes, we are not trying to do more
with less. We are working to make sure we can do the important things
One of our most-important efforts has been to fully establish Survivor
Outreach Services (SOS), to provide Survivors with longer-term, expanded
support and care after casualty assistance ends. SOS staff have made
tremendous progress in a short time, receiving more than 24,000 cases
from Casualty and Mortuary Affairs, and they continue to enhance
services as more Survivors provide feedback. This past year, SOS
initiated a Survivor vehicle decal program to ease installation access,
established a Facebook page, and held the first annual SOS summit to
address challenges Survivors face.
Other efforts include:
• Transforming how Army Community Service delivers services, by
cross-training more generalists to handle multiple programs and moving
service locations out into communities.
• Adding 44 more Systems Navigators to Exceptional Family Member
Programs at 26 installations, to assist Families with special needs
members in accessing educational, medical, housing and personnel
services on- and off post.
• Hiring more than 240 additional Army Substance Abuse Program
counselors for installations worldwide.
• Launching the Confidential Alcohol Treatment and Education Pilot, a
program which allows Soldiers to seek help for addiction without
mandatory command involvement.
• Launching a pilot program in which Military Student Transition
Consultants join School Liaison Officers in working with school
districts, garrisons and Families to help students succeed at their new
• Revising the Total Army Sponsorship Program that helps prepare
Soldiers, Families and Civilians for their new duty station.
• Reinvigorating the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) process, with an
analysis and review process that has reduced the backlog of active AFAP
issues from 86 in February 2010 to 51 in February 2011.
This is a snapshot of what we have been doing to enhance support for
Soldiers and Families. It does not begin to convey the full scope of the
programs and services Installation Management professionals provide
every day, including housing, public works, emergency services,
environmental programs, recreation, child care, single Soldier programs
and Family programs.
When we look at some big indicators, we see evidence that the Army is
meeting the needs of Soldiers and Families. The Army is exceeding its
recruitment and retention goals, and on the most recent Survey of Army
Families, the majority of spouses said they are satisfied with the Army
as a way of life. This is significant after 10 years of ongoing conflict
— it speaks to the dedication of Soldiers and their Families and the
Army’s commitment to providing a quality of life commensurate with their
In the new fiscal reality, it will be more of a challenge for the
Installation Management Community to provide the level of support we
want to for our Soldiers and Families, but we will. We are finding
better and smarter ways to provide services and programs by asking
ourselves the same questions Families ask when they look at their own
budgets: do we really need it? Is it worth the cost? What are we willing
to do without?
To answer these questions, we need to keep hearing from Soldiers and
Family members — through Interactive Customer Evaluation surveys and
local AFAP summits, for example — about the specifics of what is
working, what needs to be improved, and what is missing. The commitment
to supporting Soldiers and Families remains as strong as ever, but more
than ever, we have to make sure we are on target in meeting their needs.