21 November 2014

Kate Suarez, co-coordinator and facilitator for the annual Army Family Action Plan conference, shares some of the issues included in the conference with the audience during the opening ceremony Nov. 6. Photo by Shannon Bishop, USAG Public Affairs
Annual Conference Offers Opportunity for Change in Military Community
By Shannon Bishop, USAG Public Affairs

The 2014 Army Family Action Plan Conference wrapped up their annual meeting Nov. 6 at the Community Support Center, Building 1520 with a closing ceremony.

Each year, members of the Fort Detrick community, including active duty military, gather to discuss a variety of issues that the community would like to see change. This year was no different-over 25 issues were presented to delegates during the conference.

“The feedback we have received about this year’s AFAP conference has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Exceptional Family Member Program Manager Michelle Hewitt. “It went very well and our delegates had positive things to say about their experience.”

One delegate left feedback for Hewitt, explaining that the conference is a great way to make changes and he looks forward to participating again in the future.

“This conference is a chance for our community to change existing law and legislation,” said Hewitt

Though there were 26 issues presented during the conference, only the top three are chosen to be sent to the Department of the Army for consideration.

According to Hewitt, during the closing ceremony, Maj. Gen. Brian Lein, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick, agreed that the top three issues were valid, critical issues.

The top three issues of this year’s conference were:

  • Mental health support-intensive outpatient programs are excluded from list of coverage in TriCare benefits
  • Maternity leave/post-partum-active duty military is only given six weeks of maternity leave unless there are medical reasons for a longer period of leave required. This issue, according to delegates, does not allow for appropriate recovery time or family time
  • Kids currently have to pay out-of-county public school tuition fees if they are dependents of an active-duty service member

“Issues for the AFAP conference can be submitted all year,” said Hewitt. “Next year’s AFAP conference is likely to be held in November.”

For more information about AFAP, or for information on how to submit an issue, call (301) 619-3385.

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