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AFCS survey

Feedback improves military programs

Assessment available online through April

Published: 01:03PM April 17th, 2014

Managers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Armed Forces Community Service hope to discover how different parts of the installation’s community are using the programs they offer by asking customers this month for their feedback.

An annual Needs Assessment Survey is open online through the month of April at and while it may only be one of the tools AFCS uses to gain feedback from their targeted groups — active duty, retired, spouses of service members or retirees, inactive service members or civilians — it also provides them, at a glance, a wide spectrum of views.

“We want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of everyone, from the retiree to the entry-level service, (member),” said Russell Cron, AFCS outreach program coordinator.

The survey mainly focuses on which AFCS programs are used the most, or garner the most interest from the community, such as Financial Readiness Assistance, Exceptional Family Member Program, Survivor Outreach Services and Family Advocacy and Parent Support.

While all AFCS programs are fully funded, potential budget cuts under discussion are weighing on their minds. The results of the survey may help in deciding how to best allocate resources in the event of such cuts down the road.

“If we find that there’s a lot of people saying we need the EFMP services, then we can maybe look at how our personnel are being used and we can ensure we have enough people to help our customers and clients,” said Jo Dempsey, AFCS family programs manager.

Survey takers have the option to provide AFCS with an email address to be added to distribution lists for certain programs or to receive additional information from the AFCS managers.

At the same time, the AFCS can also reach people who are asking about services they may not be aware exist.

“It’s not just about what we have at Armed Forces Community Service, it’s the products and services all our folks can get at JBLM,” Cron said.

Another way results are sorted is based on customer-provided zip codes, which help show whether those using AFCS programs and classes live on or off the base.

The idea comes from the successful results from a pinpointed survey to JBLM community members in the Yakima area last fall.

“If we have a strong nucleus in Lacey, maybe we can find a place to have a class and bring our services outside the installation,” Dempsey said.

Outside of AFCS programs, the survey also gauges interest in volunteerism on base. Cron mentioned that in many cases there is interest from service members and family members in volunteering but taht sometimes prospective volunteers are unaware of all of the options at JBLM.

“We want to make sure they get the right connections,” Cron said.

While the survey is tentatively available online until the end of the month, Cron said they could extend the time frame based on the number of responses they receive, along with responding to those who provide their contact information.

“We want to get the most bang for our buck,” Cron said.