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WüRZBURG, Germany — Soldiers, civilians, spouses and retirees within the U.S. Army Garrison Franconia community met this week to discuss what the Army is doing right and wrong for their quality of life during the garrison’s Army Family Action Plan conference at Leighton Barracks in Würzburg.

Under the auspices of Army Community Service, the four-day conference brought together people sharing the Army in Europe experience to get input on life at American communities in Würzburg, Kitzingen and Giebelstadt.

“The makeup of the conference brings in [Family Readiness Group] leaders, single soldiers, teenagers and retirees,” said Col. Russel Santala, the garrison’s commander. “We get a great cross section of the community.”

Other garrisons also hold their own conferences every two years, said Wendy Lakso, program manager for Franconia’s conference.

Seventy participants spent the week figuring out what the top five quality-of-life issues are in categories such as family support, force support and entitlements, Lakso said.

The issues presented on the conference’s final day on Thursday ranged from ice and snow removal to selection at exchange stores. Some groups said that Tricare was too inaccessible, while others said there was a lack of child-care options for in-processing personnel.

At the end of the presentation, Lakso told the attendees that they would receive periodic updates on the status of suggestions in terms of being implemented.

Issues raised are given to a garrison steering committee and are addressed there if possible, Santala said.

“Things we can’t address here locally will get elevated,” he said.

Those concerns are sent to the Installation Management Agency-Euro’s summer conference, Lakso said. Sometimes, the issues go to the top of the Army.

In the past, the Army Family Action Plan’s issues have led to an increase in the amount of life insurance for servicemembers and a more generous housing allowance, she said.

“They’re giving us feedback on how well we’re living up to their expectations,” Santala said.

After the conference ended, while eating some cake, Sgt. Saint Numa, of the 106th Finance Battalion, said he enjoyed participating and would do it again.

“It’s a good thing,” he said. “I always thought things in the Army just stayed the way they are.”


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