FORT HOOD — Youth met with Fort Hood leaders Thursday to present ideas for improving life for teens on post.

About 50 teens ages 13 to 18 participated in the 2013 Fort Hood Teen AFAP Conference. Organized by Fort Hood’s Army Community Service and Soldier and Family Readiness Branch, the conference allowed participating teens to identify and develop changes and improvements for their peers.

“When adults have ideas to change things and they speak out, they are almost always going to be heard,” said Jamila Cutts, a 17-year-old high school senior. “With teens, that might not always happen, so this is our chance to tell everyone what we think.”

At the conference, the teens presented eight recommendations to Fort Hood leadership, including Garrison Commander Col. Matt Elledge. Issues ranged from calls to create a financial aid counseling center for military students looking to attend college to asking for more name-brand clothing in on-post stores.

“We need to hear your voice,” Elledge told the group.

“You guys have to be our eyes and ears now.”

At the end of the conference, the group voted on their top recommendation. According to the vote, the most important recommendation was the call for a teen-oriented club on post. The second most important recommendation called for the creation of a career education and counseling center.

Elledge said the group brought forth several good points, but also indicated recent budget cuts would make it difficult to allocate funds or manpower. Elledge said Fort Hood would look to the teens themselves to help address the challenges presented at Thursday’s conference.

“We need you teens to step up to the plate.”

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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