The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

14 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL U.S. Foreign Service on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, there are methods FSOs can use in their official capacity to tell your stories to members of Congress. There are many opportunities to educate legislators and their staff on issues important to the Foreign Service, while complying with the Hatch Act. Reaching Members of Congress In many instances, decisions in Con- gress are not made out of malice; many are simply made out of ignorance. I would encourage you to consider engaging in one or more of the following opportuni- ties to assist members of Congress in understanding the needs and capabilities of our Foreign Service: ■ Congressional delegation trips abroad and briefings in Washington to lawmakers and staff are probably the most direct way to interact with members of Congress. I know these interactions are a rite of passage for many entry-level officers and take a lot of work; but I can tell you from experience that they are a critical piece of spreading an understand- ing of the Foreign Service and the value of diplomacy, and well worth the effort. ■ The Pearson Fellowship is an excel- lent opportunity for an FSO to work in a legislator’s personal office or on a com- mittee. Last year, I was proud to welcome to my office an 18-year veteran of the For- eign Service who integrated quickly as a full member of my team. This integration helped the FSO learn about our legisla- tive branch from the inside, which will assist his parent organization—the State Department in this case—in the long run. It also helped my office understand the work of diplomats and the nuances associated with many issues dealing with foreign affairs. ■ When and if you ever decide to leave the Foreign Service, I urge you to continue your service to the nation in Congress— as a legislator, staffer or advocate. From engaging with stakeholders and building coalitions to analyzing policy, many of the skills you learned as a diplomat directly translate to work in Congress. These roles present great opportunities to further the objective of strengthening our diplomatic service. One of my deputy chiefs of staff served as an FSO in Havana, and I count on him to keep me informed and up-to-date on the state of the Foreign Service so that we can fight to get you the resources and authorities you need. A Growing Coalition for Diplomacy Decisions are being made right now about the budget, resources and policies you need to do your job, and we need your voice to lay out why those tools are so vital to our security and a more stable world. Making sure you have what you need is a critical investment this country makes in a safer, more prosperous homeland and world, and there is a growing coali- tion in Congress, especially among newer members, who understand the impor- tance of our Foreign Service to national security and prosperity. The work you do matters, and I want you to know that there are folks in Con- gress who have your back. Together, we can ensure the Foreign Service has what it needs to meet the challenges of global leadership in the 21st century. n