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November 09, 2012

Community

Army Family Action Plan conference advances 2 issues

Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Delegates at Fort McCoy’s Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) conference Oct. 24-25 discussed six issues and forwarded two issues to be considered at a mid-level conference.

Kevin Herman, AFAP manager for Army Community Service, said the installation AFAP conference is an annual event to review issues important to the Fort McCoy community.
PHOTO: Issues are discussed at the annual Army Family Action Plan conference. Photo by Rob Schuette
Army Family Action Plan volunteer delegates, with the assistance of Army Community Service personnel, discuss an issue at the annual Fort McCoy conference.

“Each issue submitted is reviewed by the commander (after the conference),” Herman said. “Issues are discussed by the delegates, and solutions must be recommended, including if delegates determine they can take no action on submitted issues.”

The top AFAP issues from the October conference are forwarded for consideration at the Installation Management Command conference, which will be held in early February 2013. The top three McCoy issues concerned a physical-readiness training (PRT) opportunities facility for company-sized elements in inclement weather, using certain mobilized duty to lower Guard and Reserve Retirement Eligibility age based on federal “specified-duty” eligibility to receive reserve-component military pensions, and co-pays for military members/dependents, and retirees filling prescriptions at non-Army pharmacies.

The PRT issue won’t be forwarded because it can be handled at the Fort McCoy level. The issue concerned not having a covered facility large enough to accommodate a company-sized unit during inclement weather. The Army has a regulation to guide PRT.

Three recommendations were made by delegates. In the short term, existing maintenance facilities could be used. A mid-term solution would be to construct overhead-covered pavilions in the center of the existing physical training area.

The final solution would be to construct a heated facility large enough to accommodate a company-sized element. Kert Hanson, the Directorate of Public Works subject-matter expert noted the timeline to build a new facility could be several years into the future. The second issue recommended changing the retirement age reduction credit at which Guard and Reserve personnel who have performed mobilized tours in connection with military actions can receive reserve-component military pensions.

Currently, only those reserve-component personnel with service after 2008 can use each 90 days of specified duty in support of wartime deployments to reduce their retirement age eligibility to younger than 60.

Guard and Reserve personnel with specified service before 2008 cannot use time served to reduce their retirement age, thus creating an inequity between these personnel.

Delegates recommended changing the current Department of Defense (DoD) guidance to allow servicemembers with specified duty since August 1990, the beginning of the Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm), to be eligible for this retirement-age reduction benefit.

The third issue is to change co-pays for dependents and retirees at non-Army medical pharmacies. Currently, Fort McCoy military members, Family members and retirees do not have access to a military pharmacy that offers prescriptions with no co-pay requirements as they would on larger Army installations with medical facilities, such as a hospital.

“Medical benefits for Soldiers and their Families are a contractual entitlement,” Herman said. “It is important to address this issue because many of the servicemembers coming to Fort McCoy had access to an Army pharmacy (at their former duty location).”

Delegates recommended eliminating the co-pays at pharmacies when installations do not have DoD medical-treatment facilities available.

Herman said other issues presented and discussed included an educational savings plan, notification prohibiting smoking and consumption of alcoholic beverages on playgrounds on South Post and the effect of unemployment on Soldiers in the current economy.

Delegates recommended taking no actions on these issues.

Smoking and consuming alcohol on South Post playgrounds currently is prohibited, and the issue is being worked at the installation level to provide formal on-site notification of this policy, Herman said.

All of these issues, the recommended solutions, and any action taken on them will be placed in the Fort McCoy AFAP issues listing, which is available online through the website www.mccoymwr.com.

Members of the Fort McCoy community, including Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees are encouraged to submit issues or become a volunteer at any time throughout a year. These actions can be done in person at the Army Community Service Center, building 2111, or online by going to the AFAP section on the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website.

For more information about AFAP, call ACS at 608-388-3505 or Herman at 608-388-3540.

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