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Like a Bridge

We in the Foreign Service

understand the need for a

strong union and professional

association to support and

defend us and the important

work we do for the American

people. I am honored and

excited to serve all of you as

your AFSA State Vice Presi-

dent over the coming two

years.

Having already served

four years on AFSA’s Gov-

erning Board and as AFSA

post representative in Berlin

(for which I received AFSA’s

Post Representative of the

Year award in 2009), I know

well the important role AFSA

plays—not only as the “voice

of the Foreign Service” to the

world beyond Foggy Bottom,

but also as your ally and advo-

cate. Together we will weather

the challenges we face.

We all know change is

hard, but we in the Foreign

Service are perhaps uniquely

capable of managing uncer-

tainty and thriving not in spite

of change, but because of it.

After all, we constantly pick

up our lives, our families and

our professional expectations

and haul them off to new

corners of the world, with new

colleagues, new challenges

and new things to learn.

And at each stop, we find

success, advancing American

interests as no other orga-

nization can or does. Sure,

problems arise, setbacks

occur and unforeseen threats

present themselves. But we

carry on in the time-honored

traditions of our Service. It’s

who we are and what we do.

Our esprit de corps holds

us together, inspires us to

help one another in adjusting

to the ever-changing realities

of new homes and new jobs,

new places and new people.

Now is a moment when that

spirit of togetherness must

hold to support this Service

and this State Department—

and AFSA is poised to pro-

mote and protect our entire

Foreign Service family.

There are reasons for

hope: the draconian cuts in

foreign affairs budgets initially

proposed by some have faced

significant headwinds on Cap-

itol Hill. Members of Congress

from both parties have made

clear their belief that a robust

diplomatic and development

capability is as critical to U.S.

national security as a strong

military deterrent.

All indications suggest that

Congress plans to back these

views with a budget that con-

tinues funding for the depart-

ment at appropriate levels.

AFSA continues to engage

actively with our allies in Con-

gress, to press for passage of

appropriations that reflect the

vital work of the Foreign Ser-

vice and respect members of

Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA State VP.

Contact:

KeroMentzKA@state.gov

| (202) 647-8160

STATE VP VOICE

| BY KENNETH KERO-MENTZ

AFSA NEWS

the Foreign Service as profes-

sionals serving the nation in

often difficult and dangerous

circumstances.

Change is coming. Rest

assured, we will push back

where needed, influence deci-

sions where we can and do

our best to keep you apprised

of what lies ahead. Wherever

possible, AFSA will seek to

be the bridge that leads the

Foreign Service through these

troubled waters and onto the

path of a future every bit as

distinguished as our past.

Setbacks may occur, but with

your support for AFSA, we will

remain strong.

And I will do everything in

my power to honor the trust

you have placed in me by

representing and encourag-

ing that strength through the

challenges ahead. This is my

pledge.

n

66

SEPTEMBER 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP.

Contact:

naland@afsa.org

| (703) 437-7881

RETIREE VP VOICE

| BY JOHN NALAND AFSA NEWS

Focus on Retiree Issues

I thank those who elected

me as Retiree Vice President

for 2017-2019. Like all AFSA

Governing Board members,

I will support AFSA’s efforts

to advance the interests

of the active-duty Foreign

Service. But, in accordance

with my job title, my primary

focus will be on issues which

impact current Foreign Ser-

vice retirees and their sur-

vivors and which will affect

today’s active-duty members

when they eventually retire.

Those issues include:

Benefits:

The current

administration has proposed

dramatic cuts in federal

retirement benefits which

would lower the standard of

living for current and future

Foreign Service retirees and

would make it more difficult

for foreign affairs agen-

cies to attract and retain a

talented and diverse work-

force. I and others in AFSA

will join representatives

of other federal employee

Continued on page 67