AFAP panel reports health, other community issues
CAMP CASEY -- A panel of Warrior Country Soldiers and civilians has asked senior leaders to set up a full-fledged emergency room operation at the Camp Casey medical clinic and to provide more sanitary nursing locations on Area I installations.
Those were among 39 quality-of-life issues delegates to Area I's annual Army Family Action Plan conference have forwarded to senior leaders for possible action.
The conference was held Oct. 24 and 25 at the Community Activity Center on Camp Casey.
AFAP forums are held annually on Army installations worldwide. They seek to identify the most urgent quality-of-life concerns among those submitted for consideration by members of military communities. Army leaders then look to resolve the issues to the extent possible.
Among leaders attending this year's conference were Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, and Col. John M. Scott, Commander, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I.
The conference's 46 delegates were divided into three working groups: family support; medical support; force support.
The panel's top recommendations also included, among others, a call for an informational handbook and other steps that will help orient families -- both command sponsored and non-command sponsored -- slated for a move to Korea, and for action to ensure that Soldiers who miss meals because of mission requirements are properly reimbursed.
In asking that an emergency room operation be established at Camp Casey, the Group noted that the clinic currently has limited staff and equipment to function as a round-the-clock emergency room.
"Currently, the nearest staffed emergency room is 14 miles from Camp Casey," the group's representative told the audience. The distance, road conditions and other considerations could pose critical delays in treating an emergency patient, the group said.
In asking for more designated baby nursing areas, the Force Support Group said Maude Hall on Camp Casey "has the only known nursing location." The lack of enough sanitary nursing locations can expose infants to health hazards and create anxiety for "most mothers," the group told the audience.
Each group in turn presented its top two issues to the audience.
After reading the issues to the audience, the group performed a short skit to dramatize them.
For example, the Force Support Group dramatized the baby nursing issue with a skit in which a group of women passersby notice a woman breast-feeding her baby and suggest she do it in the bathroom.
She responds with indignation.
"The bathroom? You want me to feed my baby in the bathroom?...Do you eat in the bathroom?"
Immediately after the skits the Area I commander made brief remarks.
"Wow, let me tell ya," said Scott, "that was pretty sporty."
Scott told the audience the AFAP process gets the attention of the Army's top echelons of leadership.
"Depending upon how serious the issue is, it can go all the way up to the Department of the Army," Scott said.
He introduced the 2nd Infantry Division's commanding general.
Vandal said the skits -- "particularly the baby skit" -- had helped drive home the intended points.
"It really reinforces the point and I would tell you those points are very clear to us," said Vandal.
"This is a very important forum to provide feedback to the Army," he said. "At the end of the day it's empowered communities to identify and look for things that need to be improved, and that's what you really bring to this. So we appreciate the dialogue and the input."
Fernanda Green, a military spouse who served as a delegate with the Family Support Group, said she believed the AFAP conference was "definitely" effective in helping improve a military community.
"Because we hear everybody's voice," said Green, whose husband is a junior enlisted Soldier. "We can bring it out for the military community to be like, 'Oh, yeah, that is an issue and we can help resolve the issue.'"
Pfc. Starla Parker served as a delegate with the Force Support Group.
"It's a thorough process," Parker said of the AFAP conference. "It gives everyone a chance to break down situations, issues...it helps us thoroughly break down and bring forth before the generals what were the main issues to be resolved."
As a next step in the AFAP process, all 39 issues will be forwarded to the Area I-level AFAP steering committee headed by Scott, said Su-jin McClintock, Area I AFAP program manager.
The committee will meet at a date still to be determined, said McClintock, and can thereafter hold additional meetings if needed.
The garrison will work to resolve as many of the issues as possible with its own staff and other resources.
Any that can't be resolved there will be forwarded to the Department of the Army for possible action.