by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive and General Ivan Jones, Army Director Personnel

THERE are key people in the Army that are important for us at AFF to engage with to ensure that your voice is heard and considered – and one of those is General Ivan Jones, who recently took over as Personnel Director for the Army.

His remit is vast and includes the policy responsibility for many family-related issues such as housing, welfare, allowances – issues that we work with on a day-to-day basis.

Whenever we have emerging trends or escalating concerns from families, one of my first points of contact would be either General Ivan or his immediate team and I’m pleased that he has agreed to share this foreword with me, talking specifically about the results of the recent FAMCAS – the tri-Service annual Families’ Continuous Attitude Survey.

For those of you that have never heard of FAMCAS, it’s the MOD’s own survey to gauge families’ satisfaction with Service life.

As always, this year’s survey had positives and negatives, but there’s one stat that particularly worries me – 56 per cent of families do not feel valued by the Army. This fact is not new to us, but it’s worrying that more than half of families surveyed feel this way.

What lies behind this statistic?

AFF evidence shows that many of you don’t feel that your voice is heard or considered in policy developments, believing that budgets drive decisions rather than a desire to improve your lives. This, together with the continued lack of information, creates the feeling of not being valued.

What can we do about it?

At AFF we constantly champion the need for better communication and consideration for families and we will continue to do so.

But there’s also a very important role for the Army to play in this and that is why I’m pleased to hand over to General Ivan for his personal reflection on the results and plans for improvements…

IT is a pleasure for me as the Army’s Personnel Director to contribute to the foreword for this edition of Army&You, writes Gen Ivan.

The FAMCAS report captures well, and I recognise personally, the continued sacrifices families make supporting those of us serving in the Army. The issues of separation, employment opportunities, work-life balance and house moves are hardy perennials. I believe we have a clear responsibility to address these issues, to improve the quality of life for our families and to ensure the Army really merits the pride 84 per cent of families feel in their soldiers.

However, it is disappointing to see that only 17 per cent of our families report feeling valued and I am determined to address this. We must get much better at communicating and consulting, particularly when there is so much change that potentially impacts on you. I would value your views on how we can best speak and listen to you through the next AFF communications survey.

I intend to engage personally and regularly with family communities to ensure my understanding of your views remains up-to-date. I have also written to all commanding officers encouraging them to seize the initiative and engage better with our families. We did it superbly while we were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and we must regain that connection.

Finally, thank you all for the support you provide to our soldiers. I know from my own experiences that I could not have enjoyed 30 years of service in the Army without the support of my family. I also know those serving today cannot deliver the remarkable results they consistently do without your support.

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