The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

66 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP. Contact: | (703) 437-7881 RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN NALAND AFSA NEWS News You Can Use: The 2018 AFSA Retiree Directory Is Here Watch your mail this month for your copy of the 2018 AFSA Directory of Retired Members. In it, you will find contact information to help you stay connected to your Foreign Service legacy by keeping up friendships, renewing contacts with former col- leagues and meeting new Foreign Service retirees in your area. You will also find informa- tion on the nearly 20 Foreign Service retiree associations that are scattered around the United States. Those groups, such as the North- ern Virginia group to which I belong, bring Foreign Service retirees together to socialize and hear interest- ing guest speakers. If there is a group near you, please consider joining. New in the directory this year is a section, “Reviewing Your Retirement Plans,” that details 25 areas that are important to managing your retirement. There you will find a discussion of, for example: beneficiary designations, survivor benefits, Thrift Savings Plan, Social Secu- rity, Medicare and health insurance. A useful rainy—or snowy—day activity this winter would be for you to review those 25 topics to determine if you need to make any mid-course cor- rections in your retirement plans. For example: rebal- ancing TSP fund allocations, updating an old will, or signing up for online access to Annuitant Express and My Social Security. Another topic that is new to this year’s directory is information on discounts available to AFSA members from a variety of magazines, vendors and retailers. Younger retirees will find information to help make future decisions about when to apply for Social Security and whether to pay for Medicare Part B. There is also information about how divorce or remarriage after retirement can impact Foreign Service retirement benefits. As always, the direc- tory explains which State Department offices do what in terms of answering retiree questions or processing annuitant benefits changes. In case you are not satisfied with an answer they give, or you cannot get an answer from them at all, the direc- tory lists contact informa- tion for AFSA staff members who are ready to assist you. Finally, the directory explains how retirees who are now free from decades of restrictions by the Hatch Act can speak out about the importance of well-funded and properly resourced diplomacy. We hope you will find your 2018 AFSA Directory of Retired Members to be a valuable resource that you refer to throughout the year. If you have suggestions for topics to add to next year’s edition, please send them to me at naland@afsa. org. n AFSA: Your Partner in Retirement AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson (far right) and Jim Benson, president of DACOR, offer a toast to the graduates of the Foreign Service Institute’s Job Search Program. Amb. Stephenson reminded participants of the value of their AFSA membership and encouraged them to rejoin AFSA as retirees (since membership does not automatically carry over). She invited them to continue to take advantage of the benefits of membership and the chance to stay in touch with the Foreign Service during retirement. AFSA/ERIKABETHMANN