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AFRICOM Hosts Quality-of-Life Meeting for Military Families Living in Africa
The "American Families on the African Continent" Quality of Life Working Group met with General William "Kip" Ward and his wife, Joyce Ward, on March 20, 2008, at the NATO School in southern Germany following a week of
The "American Families on the African Continent" Quality of Life Working Group met with General William "Kip" Ward and his wife, Joyce Ward, on March 20, 2008, at the NATO School in southern Germany following a week of discussion and briefings regarding issues of importance to U.S. military families on the African continent.



"Thank you for who you are, for where you are, and for what you're doing as an integral part of our effort toward increased security on the continent," Ward told delegates upon his arrival at the conference. "What you do is critically important and is not taken for granted."



The Quality of Life Working Group was comprised of 21 spouses of Defense Attaches and Office of Defense Cooperation chiefs representing each of Africa's five regions, and was held in conjunction with the first U.S. Africa Command Theater Security Cooperation Working Group. The purpose of the conference was to develop a report detailing the unique perspectives of Department of Defense families living and working on the African continent, as well as to build teamwork among Africa-based military families, many in remote locations.



Senior mentors for the working group included Joyce Ward, Sparks Moeller, Kathi Altshuler and Jennie Crawford from U.S. Africa Command, as well as Kelly Greene from Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. The weeklong program included information briefings regarding health care and financial issues from Department of Defense representatives, as well as the establishment of focus groups to collectively address participants' quality-of-life concerns.



Delegates ranged from those assigned for the first time to the continent to those posted numerous times to Africa. At a luncheon with the participants, Joyce Ward thanked them for traveling to Germany for the conference and complemented them for their dedication to the successful outcomes of the role played by the U.S. military on the continent.



"After 30-plus years of working with families and quality-of-life issues, and having had the wonderful opportunity to visit many African countries, it is clear that there isn't anything more important than hearing what the needs are of our families," Joyce Ward said. "We need to understand how we can make their lives better to allow our service members to do their job more successfully. There is no better place to do that than in such a forum as this."



Rose Fisk, assigned to Tunisia, was enthusiastic in her support of this inaugural conference. "It is a privilege and an honor to participate in the first Africa Command quality-of-life conference," she said "and to assist future American families on the African continent."



"To be with all the other spouses helped to unify us and to not feel isolated," said Darla Jones, assigned to Botswana. "All briefings were beneficial. To gain this information first-hand from military representatives was very helpful to me."



The result of the week's working group will be an issue-paper presented to the commander of U.S. Africa Command with a prioritized listing of issues for consideration. The report will be an integral element of the command's Quality of Life Action Plan and included in future planning efforts to improve the quality of life of U.S. military families based in Africa.
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