Programs, Events and Updates

November-December 2018

  1. Federal Benefits Programming in the New Year
  2. Holiday Happy Hour, December 6
  3. AFSA Scholarship Applications Available Dec. 1
  4. AFSA’s 2019 Retiree Directory
  5. Call for Nominations: 2018 Sinclaire Language Awards
  6. 2019 FSJ Editorial Calendar Released
  7. Consumers' Checkbook for AFSA Members
  8. Coming Up in the FSJ
  9. Join the FSJ Centennial Celebration
  10. Please Update Your Address!


Following our November 6 program on Social Security, we are pleased to announce that our next two federal benefits events will take place in early 2019.

  • On January 22, AFSA retiree vice president John Naland will again offer his informative presentation, “Retirement Planning 5 to 10 Years Out.” This is tailored to our active-duty members who are nearing retirement. This event will take place at AFSA HQ, 2101 E Street, from 12:00-1:30 p.m.
  • Then, on February 5, Naland will conduct a webinar for our retiree members, focused on “Reviewing Your Retirement Plan,” focused on encouraging members to take a look at their current retirement plan and ask whether changes or updates are needed.
  • Stay tuned for separate invitations for these two events in the coming weeks.


Join AFSA in a celebration of the holiday season! Our festive holiday happy hour will feature a themed cocktail, plenty of candy canes and wonderful company from the Foreign Service community. As always, light hors d'oeuvres and soda/water will be served free of charge. An entry ticket, which includes one free drink, is $5; additional drink tickets are $3 each. Click here to register for this event, which takes place at AFSA HQ, 2101 E Street NW, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.



AFSA is pleased to announce that applications for AFSA Financial Aid and Merit Scholarships will be available on December 1. In 2018 AFSA awarded $220,000 in financial aid scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $6,000 to a total of 59 students. AFSA is also proud to have awarded $129,000 in scholarships across the categories of Academic Merit, Art Merit, and Community Service to 36 high school seniors. For more information on the AFSA scholarship program or to apply please visit



Our retired members should expect a copy of the directory to land in their mail boxes before the holidays. As before, it is packed with useful information on federal benefits, outreach opportunities and other practical issues, in addition to state-by-state listing of AFSA retiree members and contact information for local Foreign Service retiree associations. We thank all those who updated their contact information and extend special appreciation to those who suggested good ideas which we hope to incorporate for the 2020 version.



Foreign language proficiency is a vital Foreign Service skill, and AFSA is pleased to be able to honor those who stand out in their mastery of languages. We are calling for nominations for the Matilda Sinclaire Language Award, which honors members of the Foreign Service for outstanding accomplishments in the study of a Category III or IV language and its associated culture. The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2019. Winners will receive a $1,000 prize. AFSA encourages nominations of those who have achieved outstanding results while studying at post. Post language officers may not be able to provide all the information called for in this form, but FSI test results are required. For candidates nominated by posts, the nominating statement is especially important. Further information can be found in the “General Guidelines” available at; you will also find the nomination form there.



We are pleased to announce the 2019 focus topics for The Foreign Service Journal:

  • JANUARY-FEBRUARY: Economic Diplomacy Works (plus the annual AFSA Tax Guide)
  • MARCH: FS Lifestyle: Food, Fitness, Fashion, Health and Wellness in the Foreign Service
  • APRIL: NATO at 70
  • MAY: Your Career: Training, EERs, etc.
  • JUNE: Migration (plus semiannual Education Supplement)
  • JULY-AUGUST: Managing Competition from China
  • SEPTEMBER: Preventive Diplomacy
  • OCTOBER: In Their Own Write - Books by Foreign Service Authors
  • NOVEMBER: Fall of the Berlin Wall: 30 Years Later
  • DECEMBER: The New (Old?) Russia and the AFSA Awards (plus semiannual Education Supplement)

As always, The Foreign Service Journal welcomes your submissions on any topic of interest to members of the FS community. We are especially seeking Speaking Out submissions (1,500-1,800 words) and Features on topics of current concern (1,800-2,200 words). In addition, the Journal is currently accepting submissions for our Family Member Matters column. Articles should be approximately 700 words. We will consider both personal essays and researched articles. Please send all submissions to The FSJ Editorial Board meets monthly to review and vote on which submissions to publish. Find guidance on how and what to submit at Assume at least 12 weeks from submission to publication, so please keep that in mind when submitting for focus topics. Please share your thoughts about articles you read in the Journal by sending a letter to the editor to



AFSA is pleased to provide free online access to the 2019 Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Federal Health Plans for all its members. This member benefit can be accessed by visiting There is no need to log in, as the link is specific to AFSA for our members. 2019 health plan information will be released today and AFSA members will have access throughout Open Season which runs through December 10.

The Guide offers vital insurance information by telling you how much you can save by changing or by staying in your current FEHB insurance plan. It provides an easy-to-understand summary of all the facts about the plans to help simplify your choice. The Guide rates over 200 health insurance plans available to Federal employees and retirees. The ratings are based on premium costs, catastrophic limits, out-of-pocket expenses, how each plan covers low, average, or high medical expenses, plan quality and enrollee satisfaction.



The November Foreign Service Journal is out, with a focus on books by FS authors and on the centennial of the Diplomatic Courier Service. The December FSJ is in production and will be a blockbuster issue, with a focus both on the AFSA award winners and on “What FSNs Want You to Know.” The issue offers an inspiring collection of insights, stories, accomplishments and profiles of local staff and separately, of AFSA award winners. Also included is an interview with Amb. Ron Neumann, 2018 recipient of the Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. The January-February issue will be another blockbuster, featuring a dozen stories for the Economic Diplomacy Works focus, as well as additional articles on the subject. The issue will be linked to, and distributed at, a special economic diplomacy panel discussion that AFSA will host at the U.S. Diplomacy Center on January 15. Stay tuned for additional information on that event!



The Foreign Service Journal turns 100 in March 2019. Stay tuned for plans for a centennial exhibit and celebration. Please join us in commemorating this milestone by snapping a photo of yourself (or a friend or family member) reading the Journal wherever you are—the more distant from D.C., the better! Photos should be 1 MB or larger if possible. Send submissions to, and please include details about yourself and the photo location and date.



Did you receive the November issue of The Foreign Service Journal? If not, we may not have your most up-to-date address. Email us at and we will correct your record.