|By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Commanding General,
Installation Management Command
SAN ANTONIO — Four years ago this month, the Army announced the Army
Family Covenant (AFC), which promised to provide Soldiers and Families a
quality of life commensurate with their service.
To help Soldiers and Families stressed by years of war, the Army
substantially increased funding for programs in areas such as
Soldier and Family services, behavioral health, housing, child care,
education, and employment.
Today, headlines about defense budget cuts are prompting people to
ask whether the Army is going to keep its promises.
The short answer is yes. Leaders change and situations change, but
the Army’s commitment to Soldiers and Families endures.
Under the AFC, the Army developed and enhanced a range of programs
that build Soldier and Family strength, resilience and readiness.
These programs include Survivor Outreach Services, Child, Youth and
School Services, New Parent Support, the Military Spouse Employment
Program, Strong Bonds, and the Wounded Warrior Sports Program.
Under the AFC, the Army has provided new and renovated housing for
thousands of Families and single Soldiers, and has constructed more
than 150 new child-care and youth centers. The Army has increased
the number of Military Family Life Consultants, who provide
confidential non-medical counseling for Soldiers and Families, and
the number of behavioral health-care providers, who provide
behavioral health services before, during and after deployment.
Under the AFC, the Army has worked hard to reach the whole Army
Family, including geographically dispersed Soldiers and Family
Toward that end, the Army supports a number of services away from
installations, such as community-based child care and Army National
Guard Family Assistance Centers, and provides Army OneSource, which
enables 24/7 access to information and services regardless of
At a time when the Army is restoring its balance, the AFC has been
the catalyst for enhancing and standardizing the quality of support
for Soldiers and Families. And now it is time to ensure our
investment has made a difference in the lives of Soldiers and
Program review has been built into the AFC from day one.
It always has been part of the AFC plan to assess program
effectiveness, consolidate, and make adjustments, to ensure there is
no overlap or gaps between programs.
So the current fiscal situation does not change our course but it
does put more gas in our tank. It intensifies the need to streamline
and make sure we continue to provide the most-valuable programs.
For the programs under the AFC umbrella, the majority of which are
run by Installation Management Command, customer feedback is a
critical part of our ongoing evaluation.
We gather customer feedback partly by looking at which services are
used most often, and partly by asking customers about their
experiences, through garrison focus groups and surveys such as the
Army OneSource Army Family Covenant survey, just completed Sept. 1.
We will ask for feedback again in January, when Soldiers, Family
members, Civilians and Retirees receive a survey on their needs,
usage and satisfaction with Family and Morale, Welfare and
Recreation programs. I urge everyone to take this and every other
opportunity to tell us about the programs and services that are
valuable to you. Your feedback impacts decisions about programming.
Like every other government organization, every business, and every
Family, we are taking a close look at our use of resources during
this time of fiscal uncertainty.
We have to determine the most-efficient, most-effective ways to
reach out to the entire Army Family and provide support in the areas
of greatest need. But we are starting from a clear, non-negotiable
bottom line: the Army will keep its promise to Soldiers and