Programs, Events and Updates

November-December 2017

  1. Join AFSA at Upcoming Events
  2. Support AFSA’s Fund for American Diplomacy in the CFC
  3. Update on Federal Benefits
  4. Sinclaire Language Awards: Call for Nominations
  5. Per Diem Regulations for Job Search Program Participants
  6. Write for The Foreign Service Journal
  7. Open Season is Here!
  8. Coming Soon: the Journal’s “Diplomacy Works” Collection
  9. Are You Retiring Soon?
  10. Please Update Your Address for the 2018 AFSA Retiree Directory!
  11. Reminder – State Department Annual Annuitant Newsletter
 

1) JOIN AFSA AT UPCOMING EVENTS


Our events calendar is quite full in the coming weeks, and we invite you to join us at AFSA headquarters for one or more of the following:

  1. The AFSA Book Market makes a happy return on November 16! Join us at any time between 11:00 am and 2:00 p.m. The Book Market will open with a special presentation and Q&A on writing and publishing from distinguished literary agent and editor Deborah Grosvenor. She will also be on hand for individual consultations with authors and aspiring authors. Click here for additional details and a list of confirmed authors.
  2. AFSA’s Holiday Happy Hour takes place on December 13 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Click here to register.
  3. On January 25 at 12:00 p.m., Ambassador James Pardew joins us to talk about his new book, Peacemakers: American Leadership and the End of Genocide in the Balkans. Click here for more information.
  4. If you’ve missed any recent event, such as the October 11 Book Notes discussion featuring Ambassador (ret.) James Bullington, most events are recorded and made available for online viewing at www.afsa.org/video.
 

2) SUPPORT AFSA’S FUND FOR AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE CFC

We want to encourage members to keep AFSA’s Fund for American Diplomacy in mind as they make plans for year-end charitable contributions. The Fund for American Diplomacy, a 501(c)(3) arm of AFSA, supports outreach to tell the proud story of the Foreign Service to the American people. The FAD’s aim is to build a domestic constituency for the Foreign Service so that we have supporters, ideally in all 50 states, prepared to stand up for the Foreign Service and defend our vitally important mission. The Fund is registered in the Combined Federal Campaign as “Diplomacy Matters-AFSA” and its CFC number is #10646. We appreciate your support. Donations may also be made via www.afsa.org/fad.

 

3) UPDATE ON FEDERAL BENEFITS

In the October AFSA Retiree Newsletter, Retiree VP John Naland updated the status of the threats to retirement benefits of federal workers as incorporated in the House bill. That bill called for increasing the contributions of active-duty employees to pay for their annuities, eliminating the annuity supplement for new retirees, reducing the government contribution for FEHB health benefits, and reducing the rate of return on TSP’s G Fund; notably absent was the proposal to eliminate Cost of Living Allowances for FERS pensions. Naland also noted that the Senate version of the bill did not call for the cuts. On October 27, Federal News Radio reported that the House opted to forgo a lengthy reconciliation with the Senate bill and instead simply voted for the Senate bill, with NO cuts to retirement benefits. This is good news for AFSA members, retired and active. But many in Congress are still keen on reducing the cost of federal benefits, so expect to see some of these proposals again. AFSA will continue to monitor, work as a member of the Federal-Postal Coalition to oppose cuts to federal retirement benefits, and keep you updated. Stay tuned!

 

4) SINCLAIRE LANGUAGE AWARDS: CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

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, 2018. 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 www.afsa.org/sinclaire; you will also find the nomination form there.

 

5) PER DIEM REGULATIONS FOR JOB SEARCH PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

Separation orders for employees assigned abroad will include authorization to travel to the Service separation address via Washington, D.C. to attend the JSP. Neither per diem nor transfer allowances will be authorized; participation will be at the expense of the employees. If the Retirement Planning Seminar is attended immediately preceding the JSP, per diem will not be authorized in connection with either course. Family members will be authorized travel directly to the service separation address only.

 

6) WRITE FOR THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

The Journal is currently seeking strong writing for publication, especially Speaking Out submissions (1,500-1,800 words) as well as Reflections (700 words). Feature and focus topic articles are also welcome (1,500-2,000 words). The Foreign Service Journal welcomes your submissions on any topic of concern or interest to members of the FS community. Check in with Journal Editor-in-Chief Shawn Dorman (dorman@afsa.org) if you have questions about timing or topics. Assume at least 8 to 12 weeks from submission to publication. The Editorial Board meets monthly to review and vote on which submissions to publish. Find guidance on how and what to submit at www.afsa.org/fsj-author-guidelines.

Please share your thoughts about articles you read in the Journal by sending a letter to the editor. Comments can also be shared on the AFSA or FSJ Facebook pages. Please send your feedback and submissions to journal@afsa.org.

 

7) OPEN SEASON IS HERE!

Open Season for changing 2018 FEHB Health Insurance Plans began on November 13 and runs through December 11. AFSA purchases the Consumer's Checkbook to Federal Health Plans as a service so members can shop around each Open Season for the most cost-effective FEHB plans to meet their changing health care needs. Whether FEHB is your primary health insurer or your secondary insurer to supplement your Medicare Part B, Consumer's Checkbook can help you save. Members should have received an email from AFSA on November 13 with instructions on how to access Consumer's Checkbook.

 

8) COMING SOON: THE JOURNAL’S “DIPLOMACY WORKS” COLLECTION

Check out the newly-released annual “In Their Own Write” feature in the November Foreign Service Journal, highlighting recently published books by members of the Foreign Service community as well as works “Of Related Interest” to foreign affairs professionals. In December, the Journal will publish Part I of a collection of brief diplomatic success stories as a part of the upcoming “Diplomacy Works” collection.

 

9) ARE YOU RETIRING SOON?

If so, please make sure that you carry your AFSA membership into retirement. Be aware that your AFSA membership will not continue unless you transition it to Retiree Membership. We recommend you do so before you actually retire so that there is no break in your membership. Dues are less than half the active duty rate and include benefits specifically for retired members. You may access the retiree membership annuity deduction forms online by clicking here. Be sure to note the date of your retirement in your email to ensure a smooth transition. Questions? Please contact member@afsa.org.

 

10) PLEASE UPDATE YOUR ADDRESS FOR THE 2018 AFSA RETIREE DIRECTORY!

If you’re a retiree who has moved this past year, please make sure AFSA has your new address for the 2018 AFSA Retiree Directory. The deadline for submitting updated addresses for inclusion in the directory is close of business on Wednesday, November 22. Otherwise, outdated information will be printed in the directory. To update your address, simply send an email to member@afsa.org. As a rule, members should always notify AFSA when they move—we want to stay in touch with you!

 

11) REMINDER – STATE DEPARTMENT ANNUAL ANNUITANT NEWSLETTER

Foreign Service retirees should have received a postcard in October showing a note titled “The Foreign Service Annuitant Newsletter” paper-clipped on to a Form 1040. The postcard states that on November 13, 2017, State's Office of Retirement will post the "2018 Foreign Service Annual Annuitant Newsletter" online at https://rnet.state.gov under the “What’s New?” tab. The Annual Newsletter contains information retirees need on health and life insurance, taxes, survivor benefits, the FSPS annuity supplement, the Re-Employed Annuitant program, and more, along with the forms you need to make changes to your benefits. If you would like a hardcopy, call the Department of State at 1-866-300-7419, and they will mail you one. As always, we at AFSA are happy to help our members navigate retirement issues; email us at member@afsa.org or call Retiree Counselor Todd Thurwachter at (202) 944-5509.