Volunteering and Supporting AFSA

Volunteering is held in high esteem in the United States. It’s the backbone of support for countless nonprofits and is viewed as a good use of personal time. Volunteering can boost the efforts of many programs, from food drives to tutoring and fundraising, not to mention creating personal connections with others in the community. Many colleges and businesses place a high emphasis on volunteering among those who apply to their schools or businesses or those who are currently representing or working for those entities. For many volunteering starts early and continues into other aspects of life.

For more than a decade, the rate of volunteering in America stayed around the same percentage: It fluctuated by about a million people here and there, but hovered between 28 and 26% of the entire country’s population, according to data kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since 2002. Since 2013, the rate dropped by nearly 2.8% according to recent studies. Generally that might not seem like such a huge number or decline but when you couple that with the financial support it means a loss of about $44.2 million over the course of the year to the various non-profit organizations.

Our great organization has felt this this loss across the board from the International, Division, and Chapter levels. Our folks are not volunteering and supporting our organization through membership, membership renewal, and support for activities and events as they did in the past. We are indeed feeling the effects and downward trend in the loss of volunteers and financial support. Many folks simply don’t realize the amount of money and support that is generated by our volunteers. Millions of dollars are saved and generated each year by the work of volunteers, without volunteerism many organizations will falter and could eventually even fail.

I am urgently seeking your support in role of volunteerism for our organization. Your membership, membership renewal, or support of activities and events is extremely important and highly valued. Simply stated without you and your support we will eventually falter and if we fail to address or fix the problem we will miss the mark and merely lose our relevance and existence. I urge you to remember the why of AFSA: “Enlisted members taking of enlisted members and their families.” If we don’t succeed then we fail ourselves and our families.

Please take time and get involved in AFSA and get others involved in our association as well…

Dr. Jim Crissinger


 

2016 Division 4 Convention/Cruise Wrap-up

Wow, what an awesome experience! Those of us who took part in the recent 2016 Division 4 Convention Cruise, we had a fabulous time! Really, wish more of you could have joined us but nonetheless it was an exciting fun-filled convention.

First and foremost, thanks to Jeff Ledoux for putting most of this together, thanks to Chapter 615 at Barksdale for their noteworthy support and contributions to our convention. I’m proud to call you my friends and AFSA family without your camaraderie and fraternalism we merely would be just like many others. However, your support, participation, involvement, and loyalty is simply a foundation for our entire division. I would also like to thank Chapter 1075, for their contribution. Moreover, thanks CMSAF #11, Chief Dave Campanale and his wife Lori for their support and participation in our convention along with that of AFSA International Vice President Fred Dembinski.

Thanks and congratulations to all our award nominees! We had some outstanding packages this year and you all made it extremely hard on the Awards Committee scoring the packages. Congratulations again to our Division Award winners who were previously mentioned in an earlier post. Congratulations and good luck at the International level.

Next, acknowledgement and thanks to the general membership in electing and selecting your 2016-17 Division 4 Executive Council:

President: Dr. Jim Crissinger, SMSgt (Ret), USAF

Vice President: Scott Turner, MSgt (Ret), USAF

1st Trustee: Jewell Hicks, MSgt, USAF — Communications

2nd Trustee: Gary Moix, MSgt (Ret), USAF — Membership

3rd Trustee: Nick Fallecker, MSgt, USAF — Legislation

Secretary: Lisa Byrd

Treasurer: Stan Staples, CMSgt (Ret), USAF

Senior Advisor: Jeff Foreman, CMSgt (Ret), USAF — Awards

We are looking forward to serving your needs and continuing to make Division 4 the best it can be!

Please don’t forget about the upcoming AFSA International Convention and Professional Airmen’s Conference in San Antonio, TX at the Grand Hyatt Hotel 20-24 August 2016. Remember save your $$$ and register early.


 

A Time for Change

The Air Force Sergeants Association or AFSA has been an extremely effective professional military association that has recently been recognized as a military service organization by the Department of Defense. That is a huge kudo to the organization and testament of what AFSA has done for the military. Since 1961, our organization has lobbied, written bills, fought, appealed and advocated for pay and benefits for the enlisted members of the Air Force and their families. Unfortunately, in some cases AFSA has become a victim of its own success. One clear example is the Tricare for Life; we lobbied and fought for that change and ultimately the passage of the bill that implemented that policy. However, it cost our organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance revenue from the Tricare Supplemental insurance policies. Regardless, it was the right thing to do and AFSA did it for our members and their families.

When going back and examining just a few of the causes we have championed over the last 25 years, we see some significant victories:

  • SGLI maximum increased from $50 K to $400K through several changes over numerous years
  • Homeowners Assistance Program for impact of BRAC
  • Retirement eligibility tenure guaranteed after 18 YOS
  • Stopped effort to deny retiree COLAs until age 62
  • Won Congressional approval to make dependent dental plan available overseas
  • Stopped DoD’s “High One” retirement plan; would have averaged final 12 months of service for entries before 9/8/80
  • PTDY authorized for POV drop off or pick up at port
  • TRICARE Prime catchment expanded beyond 40-mile radius
  • Won active/Guard/Reserve pay raises for 2000-2006 that  exceeded private sector pay growth by one-half percentage point per year, vs. previous caps below that standard
  • Repeal of the REDUX retirement system that had cut expected lifetime retired pay by 20% for members entering service after July 31, 1986
  • First step “concurrent receipt” legislation to ease the retired pay offset for certain severely disabled retirees receiving VA disability compensation. Continued Concurrent receipt legislation to increase those eligible and extend payments below the 100 percent category
  • Eliminated TRICARE Prime copays for active duty family members
  • Expanded special compensation for severely disabled retirees to include Chapter 61 (military disability) retirees
  • Authorized active/Reserve Thrift Savings Plan enrollment (NLT October 1, 2001)
  • Prohibited DoD from forcing military retirees to choose between DoD (TRICARE) and VA health care.
  • Expanded special compensation for severely disabled retirees eligibility to cover certain members with 60% disability ratings and authorized modest compensation increases for other eligible in 2003/2004.
  • Guaranteed absentee voting rights in any Federal, state or local election for members absent from a state on military orders.
  • Extended the Reserve Montgomery GI Bill usage period to 14 years after completion of initial training (vs. 10 years in previous law).
  • Extended Survivor Benefit Plan coverage to survivors of service members who die on active duty prior to reaching retirement eligibility.
  • Restored military homeowner capital gains tax equity
  • Won authority for full replacement cost of goods damaged in PCS moves
  • Prohibited imposing higher pharmacy cost shares on TFL beneficiaries vs. under- 65s
  • Hardship Pay increased from $300 to $750 per month
  • Defeated proposal to charge VA enrollment fee/increase Rx copay for certain veterans
  • New Post 9/11 GI Bill: full state college tuition for post 9/11 service, plus housing/book stipends
  • Authorized special compensation for wounded warrior caregivers
  • Limited the percentage increase in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees in future years to no more than the percentage growth in military retired pay
  • Acquired all 50 states’ ratification of the Interstate Compact on Education for Military Children easing the burden of school-age children moving from state to state
  • Brought back Tuition Assistance Program after terminated

Of course most of the victories were supported and aided by other professional organizations but AFSA was also at the forefront and in most cases lead the lobbying and advocating efforts based on our status and ability to lobby for pay and benefits. Moreover, what is not mentioned over that quick 25 year glance was all of the pay raises and additional pay allowances that were approved because of our involvement.

I’m sure many of you are thinking those changes and increases are not that significant. Well, let’s take a look at E-5 over years of service with dependents and compare pay from 1992 to 2016.

1992                                         2016

BASE PAY                 $1375.50                                $2990.10

BAS                             $ 192.30                                 $368.29

BAH                            $ 436.20                                $1296.00

 

TOTALS                     $2004.00                               $4654.39

That would be a significant difference and yes we all understand that the cost of living has gone up over the years., nonetheless it has improved the quality of life of members and families when compared to the minimum wage which  has gone from $4.25 an hour to $7.25 and hour a during that same time period.

Why am I addressing these issues and our successes? Well, quite simply when you look at these successes most of them cut across the entire spectrum of the military; Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves.  Likewise, there are not a lot issues currently that we need to improve, we need to fend off the erosion of many of our benefits like the commissaries and exchanges, educational benefits, Tricare increases, loss of Tricare coverage  and the such as well to continue to advocate for increased pay and benefits for the enlisted member and their family.  But overall, I would say we are in good shape and have been extremely successful in our efforts on Capitol Hill. Obviously we can’t win all the battle but small victories and continual gnawing away at larger issues are still victories and success for us.

Over the last several years AFSA has struggled to be relevant with the Air Force. We have worked hard to maintain our relevancy and improve our membership base however, it has just not happened. Many understand and appreciate what AFSA has done and what we will continue to do and they see the value of being a member of AFSA and they continue to support our organization and others don’t. One thing that has remained steadfast over the last 55 years is the why of AFSA. That is simply: enlisted members taking care enlisted members and their families, regardless of whether active duty, guard, reserve, retired or veteran status.

As I mentioned earlier and many of you know this our wins most often cut across the entire spectrum of the military. Thinking ahead and looking to the future and continuing to pursue venues that make us relevant and professional enlisted organization of choice we are seriously considering allowing enlisted members of all branches to join our organization. We believe that out status as a military service organization within DoD mutually aids that proposal and makes us relevant to DoD and the enlisted members in the Armed Forces of our country.  Along with allowing enlisted members and their family from other branches of the service to join our organization it also expands our pool of eligible members.

To make us the premier enlisted professional military organization of choice we need to think ahead and think outside our traditional views without forgetting about our rich and steeped traditions and history. Bearing those thoughts in mind we also need to consider a name change to our organization without losing our brand or heritage. The name Armed Forces Servicemember Association is two-fold, we retain the AFSA logo and we make ourselves relevant and available to all of the branches of services. We truly believe that is a win-win situation for our association and will help see us through the next 55 years of existence. We are not turning our back on the Air Force we are opening new horizons and boldly going were no enlisted association has ever gone. We will expand our perspective to ensure enlisted members of the Armed Forces are represented and heard from, new doors and new ideas will be entertained and exchanged.   AFSA will be the premier enlisted organization of choice.

If you love AFSA like I do and many others do, this simply makes sense for us to expand our horizons and have the ability to advocate to a larger audience on Capitol Hill be successful across the board for the enlisted member and their families. Let’s work together to move forward to make our association better!

Dr. Jim Crissinger

Division 4 President