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JBSA News
NEWS | Nov. 22, 2013

JBSA hosts Armed Forces Action Plan Conference

By Sgt. Kimberly Green Army North Public Affairs

While elected leaders continue to propose ways to reduce federal deficits, including controversial ideas for cutting military spending, Joint Base San Antonio's military community recently joined together to identify quality-of-life issues and concerns that may ultimately be affected amid these potential budget cuts and sequestration.

More than 50 service members, civilians, retirees and family members gathered at Fort Sam Houston Nov. 4-7 as part of the JBSA Armed Forces Action Plan Conference.

Once known strictly as an Army conference, AFAP continues to evolve here as a joint base initiative. The meeting was the second annual event for JBSA, but for Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, JBSA/502nd Air Base Wing commander, it was a first.

Pointing out since he's Air Force, LaBrutta said, "This is new for me. However, we are all benefactors of this magnificent program that the Army brought to bear and we're applying it right here at JBSA across the board, not only at (JBSA-) Fort Sam (Houston) but at (JBSA-)Lackland and (JBSA-)Randolph too. It's an evolution."

The purpose of AFAP is to offer a process that provides the military community a voice in shaping their standards of living by identifying issues and concerns for senior leadership resolution.

"As our military transforms, we have to take into consideration how to balance and prioritizeour competing requirements," said Cindy Lamb, JBSA AFAP coordinator. "AFAP is one way to identify the significant issues that face our military community today."

During the four-day workshop, workgroups consisting of delegates, facilitators, transcribers, issue support personnel, room managers and subject matter experts reviewed and prioritized approximately 90 issues. The groups were entitlements, family support, force support and medical.

Each group presented their top two issues during the final day's outbrief. The delegates' top recommendations included - among others - healthier options in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Food Court - tutoring for military connected students and centralization of dependent registration for child, youth and school services programs throughout the Department of Defense.

Since the inception of the Army program in 1983, AFAP has reviewed nearly 700 quality-of-life issues and resolved more than 500 of them.

The AFAP program's process of improvement begins at the local level, where annual symposiums are held to examine issues of concern that delegates believe need to be fixed.

"I've learned today how critically important AFAP is - this is a grass roots level program. You are the ones that are the decisive mass to the success of this program," said LaBrutta during the final day of the conference. "We needed innovative ideas and different approaches and you did it. We're getting after it."

Although significant progress has been made over the last three decades Army-wide and the last two years at JBSA, leaders at JBSA unanimously agreed there's always room for improvement.

"When I see a program like this, and what it can do for our service members, families and civilians, I am just blown away," said Robert Naething, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army). "I ask all to continue to think outside the box and bring issues of concern to our attention. It's all about awareness."

The Army Community Service collects comments throughout the year from its customers to be brought up at the AFAP Conference.