JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The Military Family Readiness Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (Building 600, room A-18) is scheduled to host the Joint Family Action Plan annual conference March 27, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For 35 years, the Army has provided people the opportunity to raise installation-wide issues to higher command. With joint basing, the program has been grandfathered to become what is now JFAP.
"JFAP provides the JBER community with a direct line to leadership," said Lisa Williams, 673d Force Support Squadron work/life specialist. “It all starts when one person speaks up and raises attention to the issue at a grassroots level conference.”
When individuals write up a formal issue, they should remove the emotions and include a sensible solution to the issue so it can be elevated. Every submission should include all relevant facts about the issue; who, what, when, where, and why. Another important thing to think about is how the issue affects service members as a whole, Williams said.
Issue collection boxes are located at several locations across JBER. Each issue submitted will be elevated to the delegates for review at the conference.
Delegates are chosen to review and work on the issues to be presented. The delegates come from a variety of demographics - including active-duty military, National Guard, retirees, civilians and spouses.
During the first part of the day, conference delegates will be trained and then will divide into smaller groups to discuss their issues. Each work group will then look at all the issues and prioritize them, choosing which to bring up to the command. The final part of the day is the commanders’ briefing, during which commanders will presented with the top two or three issues from each group during the brief, Commanders will review all issues outside the briefing, Williams said.
JFAP conferences have changed things throughout the years, locally and nationally, in significant ways. At JBER, JFAP has helped with the availability of ATMs located on base and programs such as Better Opportunities for Single Service Members and Joint Base Against Drunk Driving.
Some issues nationwide were elevated and eventually adopted by all services–issues such as Service member's Group Life Insurance being raised from $200,000 to $400,000 and the G.I. Bill being transferable to family members.
Though local command is able to listen to these issues and work on them throughout the year, there are some issues which they might not be able to fix themselves; these are elevated. When a quality of life issue is brought to someone's attention and it's a much larger-scale concern -- for example, changing the provisions of the G.I. Bill -- the issues are brought to JFAP coordinators and then taken up to the congressional level, where they can be resolved.
Frederica Norman, a 673d Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, has been working with the JFAP program since before the bases merged.
"Things that can't be fixed at this level of command can then be obligated to be looked at by a higher command," Norman said. "If the issue is Air Force related, it will go up the Air Force chain of command; if it is an Army issue it will go up the Army chain of command.”
"We're not turning Soldiers into Airmen or Airmen into Soldiers," she said. "We're just working on the same missions. Many families have the same needs."
Those who cannot attend this year's conference can still raise issues throughout the year by submitting them to the work/life specialist at either of the MFRC centers or dropping them into the issue boxes located at:
-The Elmendorf Fitness Center or Buckner Physical Fitness Center
-Either Military Family Readiness Center location
-The Warrior Zone
-The Kodiak child care facility
-Starbucks in the Frontier Theater.
Issues can also be submitted through the MFRC official Facebook page.