Sylvia Kidd, AUSA Director of Family Programs attended the General Officers Steering Committee, held on 4 June, 2008. During the meeting, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP). The first AFAP conference was held in 1983 as a result of a white paper on the quality of life for Army Families. AUSA has been involved in the process, which was fully developed in 1984 and known as the Year of the Army Family, since its inception and is a major sponsor.
AFAP brings together delegates from all components and segments of the Army family to identify issues that will improve the quality-of-life for soldiers, retirees, Department of the Army civilian employees and family members. It is designed to allow these delegates to have direct input and provide recommendations to senior Army leaders on how the selected issues, which originate at installation level, can be resolved.
As of 2008, AFAP has successfully brought 102 legislative changes, achieved 152 DoD or Army policy/regulatory changes, and improved 168 programs and/or services funding. Currently, 112 issues have been deemed as unattainable often due to non-support from the other services or funding issues; 91 still remain active. Among the 25 issues presented at this GOSC meeting, 10 were marked as completed since the goals had been met either through legislation or policy changes.
These issues are:
- Dental Services for Retirees Overseas - the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) has been expanded to overseas locations;
- Non-subsidized Reserve Component (RC) Group Health and Dental Insurance - TRICARE Reserve Select was created to provide a self-funded (at no cost to the government) medical and dental insurance plan for the Reserve Component;
- Reserve Component (RC) Retired Pay - Legislation was passed to authorize some retired RC soldiers to have the option to receive retired pay at age 50 at a reduced rate or wait until age 60 to receive full retired pay;
- Leave Accrual - Service members are allowed to accumulate 90 days of leave until termination of service;
- Completion of Deployment Cycle Support (DCS) Program by Individual Returnees - The DCS Concept Plan was modified to require commanders to be responsible and accountable for individual returnees completing the DCS, and for making the DCS available to the family members of those individual returnees;
- Enlisted Promotion Points Submission - The administrative reevaluation submission requirements were lowered to 10 points;
- Temporary Lodging for Single Service Members with Partial Custody/Visitation - Service members who have partial custody/visitation of their children may be included on a confirmed reservation basis priority listing up to 10 days in advance for military lodging;
- Shortage of Professional Marriage and Family Counselors — The number of marriage and family counselors in under-served areas (CONUS/OCONUS) has been increased by expanding the use of contract resources;
- Army Community Service (ACS) Manpower Authorizations and Funding Authorizations and funding for all ACS positions have been made according to the US Army Manpower Analysis Agency Staffing Guidelines, and funding has been provided for the Well Being initiatives that support ACS;
- Funding for Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Respite Care - The Army is currently using Operation and Maintenance, Army (OMA) funds to either pay or subsidize respite care for EFMP families, and is providing additional OMA funding to pay for EFMP respite care.