News: AFAP helps make changes to help Fort Bliss community
Story by Sgt. Mark Kauffman
FORT BLISS, Texas - Army Family Action Plan provides the “voice” for soldiers, family members, retirees and DoD workers to let senior leadership know what works, what doesn’t work and how the changes can better the military community.
More than 600 issues have been brought up since the inception of the program, and more than 450 of those have been resolved.
“AFAP has been working for the people of this base for more than 27 years,” said Helen Barrientes, program manager. “We try to better the quality of life for anyone who calls Fort Bliss home.”
Barrientes has been with AFAP since 1998, when she moved here as an Army spouse. She started off as a volunteer and over the years has witnessed positive changes on post and Army wide.
Definitely proud of AFAP’s accomplishments, Barrientes enthusiastically recalls some of the changes she has seen.
A person suggested a car wash on post because he was tired of washing his car off post, she said.
AFAP took the problem to the post’s senior leadership, they contracted out the work and, without costing Fort Bliss any money, nine months later there was a car wash, she said.
As an added bonus, MWR gets a percentage of the revenue, she said.
“The car wash was a win-win situation for the people of Fort Bliss,” added Barrientes.
Folks also wanted more restaurants on post than just Burger King, so AFAP turned over the idea to Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and Freedom Crossing was born.
On an Army scale, it was AFAP and the soldiers of Fort Bliss who helped bring back the patrol caps.
Barrientes knows that the success of AFAP here could not have existed without the support of unit-level commanders, all the way up to the division commander.
According to Barrientes, since Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard took command of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss nearly three years ago, more than 20 issues have been implemented and changed. “Gen. Pittard and our leadership believe in our program and care for our community,” said Barrientes. “They listen to the wants and needs of their soldiers and act on them.”
Changes from the barber shops opening up at 7 a.m., to adding additional stop signs around Freedom Crossing, to raising the speed limit on Cassidy Road are all about listening to and taking care of the troops, said Gen. Pittard.
“We try and solve problems at the post level,” said Gen. Pittard.
Given the success of the AFAP program, a Teen AFAP recently has been created for service members’ teenagers. They attend quarterly meetings with Gen. Pittard and other senior commanders so their voices can be heard.
One of the issues teens have brought up to leadership was field maintenance at the youth center and preventing injuries. The leaders listened, and now the fields are taken care of regularly by an outside source.
“They did a knockout job at the meeting,” said Barrientes. “From now on, they will be invited to every meeting.”
No matter how big or small you think your suggestions are, if it will benefit you, it will probably benefit others.
For more information, call 568-1132, go to Army Community Service at 2494 Ricker Road, or log on to www.blissmwr.com/AFAP