(Army News Service) —
Throughout the rest of 2008, the Army is celebrating the 25th
anniversary of the creation of the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP),
senior leaders said, citing an ongoing commitment to families embodied
in the Army Family Covenant.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren
takes a moment to have his photo taken with young members of the
Army Family during an Army Family Covenant signing ceremony at
Fort Monroe, Va. (Photo
by Staff Sgt. Christina M. O’Connell)
The Army Family Covenant says that Soldiers’
strength comes from their families. It pledges to provide for and
support those families, increase the accessibility and quality of
healthcare, improve Soldier and family housing and standardize and
fund family programs and services.
Then- Army Chief of Staff Gen. John A. Wickham
signed a ground-breaking "white paper" titled The Army Family on Aug. 15,
1983. It identified the need for the Army to increase support to its
families. Wickham and his staff asserted that a healthy family
environment allows Soldiers to concentrate more fully on their
"The readiness of our all-volunteer force
depends on the health of the families," said Secretary of the
Army Pete Geren. "I can assure you that your Army leadership
understands the important contribution each and every one of you
makes. We need to make sure we step up and provide the support
families need so the Army Family stays healthy and ready."
The Army was in transition in 1983 — the Army was
moving from an organization composed mostly of draftees and short-term
enlistees, to an all-volunteer, professional force consisting of more
than 50 percent married personnel.
"The readiness of our all-volunteer force depends on the
health of the families."
Secretary of the Army
Wickham set a new vision and course for Army
Families that carries on to this day.
AFAP was created with an initial planning
conference in 1984, the Year of the Army Family. Its mission: to help
Army leaders address the needs and concerns of family members.
The program uses family representatives from around
the world to identify issues that will improve the standard of living
for Soldiers and their families. This feedback to leaders provides for
policy changes that become tangible end-products for the Army Family.
AFAP beneficiaries include Soldiers, retirees,
Department of Army civilian employees and all their family members.
Delegates meet and vote on the top five conference issues every year.
These issues are briefed at the next
general-officer steering committee. The process involves the voicing
of what’s working and what isn’t; and provides a recommended
solution to fix it. Senior Army leadership is alerted to areas of
concern that need their attention.
Family Action Plan set for Oct. 22-23
The fiscal year
2009 Fort McCoy Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) Conference will
be held Wednesday, Oct. 22 and Thursday, Oct. 23 at building
are being sought for the work groups.
the program or to become a delegate can be found at the Web
clicking on ACS Schoolhouse or personnel also can call the Fort
McCoy AFAP manager at (608) 388-2359/3505 for more information.
AFAP is a grass-roots program
that begins at the installation level and seeks input regarding
quality-of-life concerns that affect the well-being of Soldiers,
civilians, family members and retirees.
"We recognize what it takes to be an Army
Family, and that our Soldiers draw great strength from their
families," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
"The welfare of Army Families is increasingly important to all of
us," he said, adding that the Army was committed to building a
partnership with families. That partnership is embodied in the Army
Child care in the Army, officials point out,
exemplifies the success of the AFAP process:
• There was no funding for child care
construction in 1981.
• Between 1983 and 2006, 132 child care
facilities had been built or renovated, at a total cost of $325 million.
• The Army
funded 22 new Child Development Centers in FY07; 92 Child Development
Center projects are programmed during FY08-13.
• One new Youth Center was funded in FY07;
24 Youth Center projects are programmed during FY08-12.
Examples of family support programs and services
impacted by the AFAP process include:
• Family Readiness Groups are currently
funded, staffed and a unit requirement as a result of policy changes
made through the AFAP process.
• The Family Advocacy Program, created after an
AFAP issue identified the need to assist families in crisis, provided
training and support to more than 164,000 Soldiers or families in
• Financial Readiness Program managers conducted
110,041 financial readiness courses and provided individual support to
• More than 50,000 spouses have found employment
through the Army Spouse Employment Program.
• Army garrisons now provide more than 50
different support programs/activities (on average) ranging from
"Army Family Team Building" classes to Youth Services
Activities designed to ease the burden on the spouses of deployed
Throughout the coming months and leading up to the Army Family
Action Plan national meeting in Alexandria, Va., in January 2009,
installations and garrisons around the world will conduct local AFAP
meetings to identify key issues to be addressed by Army leadership.