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Retiree Corner articles are written by Retiree Counselor Todd Thurwachter.


Beyond the Beltway:

Foreign Service Retirees Across the Country

You don’t have to be in the

D.C. area to stay involved

—AFSA keeps in touch with

17 associations of Foreign

Service retirees covering

15 states and New England.

These groups meet regularly,

often featuring luncheon

speakers. Here, we look at a

few of the most active groups.


Texas group (Aus-


has featured

renowned academic experts

and authors speaking to

members on American for-

eign policy issues.

On June 14, Ambas-

sador Tom Boyatt, AFSA’s

VP for Retirees and chair

of the American Academy

of Diplomacy’s “American

Diplomacy at Risk” Com-

mittee, impressed his Texan

audience with a presentation

on the increasing politiciza-

tion of the Foreign Service

and its threatened capacity

to serve as a critical compo-

nent of America’s front line of


The group, which averages

more than 40 participants

at each of its five luncheons

during the year, will conclude

2016 with its Fun Festival,

featuring the funniest, crazi-

est TV/cinema ads of the

year. The Austin group is

not the only group in Texas,


San Antonio’s FS


group draws close to

40 members to its monthly

networking luncheons.

In May, the

New England


featured Ambassador

Larry Pope in York Harbor,

Maine, speaking on the need

to raise awareness of the fact

that career Foreign Service

professionals are essential to

advance American interests

overseas. The group’s Octo-

ber luncheon will be held in

Quechee, Vermont.

Maryland’s group


larly draws 50 to 75 for its

monthly, reasonably priced

gourmet lunch meetings,

which have featured, among

other speakers, Representa-

tive Chris Van Hollen (D-Md,

who was raised in an FS

family); Ambassador (ret.)

Tom Pickering and the Deputy

Chief of Mission from the Ger-

man embassy inWashington,



Northern Virginia


boasts about 100

members, with 20 to 50

attending its five luncheons

annually in Arlington, though

last January’s presentation by

former NSA and CIA Direc-

tor General Michael Hayden

exceeded the average by far.

Utah’s group

meets monthly

for lunch or dinner—its last

meeting featured a presenta-

tion on the history of dissent

in the Foreign Service.



“Upper Midwest Chapter”

has recently featured some

“big draw” luncheon speak-

ers. In May, former Vice

President (and Ambassador

to Japan) Walter Mondale had

high praise for the Foreign

Service, saying America’s

career diplomats were the

most dedicated and able

group of people he’d worked

with in his long career.

In June, Amb. Pickering

spoke to the chapter about

his work promoting the

Foreign Service as president

of the American Academy of

Diplomacy, and also about

the complex diplomacy and

politics of the nuclear deal

with Iran.

Dick Virden, who retired

from the Foreign Service in

2004 and coordinates the

Minnesota group, likes to set

the record straight: “There’s

a lot of life and engage-

ment out there beyond the


You can find your closest

FS Retiree Group in AFSA’s

2016 Retiree Directory (see

pages 34-35). Or go to “Get

Involved” at

afsa-retiree-services. Not

close enough? Organize a

group in your area.

You can find fellow FS

retirees in the Directory. Or

log into your profile page on

and click on

Member Directory, where you

can search for retirees in your

area. While there, you can also

click on the online AFSA Com-

munity, which enables you to

stay connected and involved

with all AFSAmembers world-


If you’re a member of a

retiree group, please contact

AFSA and let us know what

you are doing. Send your

thoughts to the membership

team at



In a posting to the online

AFSA Community relating

his ordeal getting the Office

of Personnel Management to

correct his death benefit, one

AFSA retiree urged members

to “check with FEGLI to obtain

in writing

the level of your life


As of two years ago, OPM

no longer shares FEGLI cases

with State’s Office of Retire-

ment; retirees must contact

OPM directly.

There are three ways to do

this: (1) Log on to Retirement

Services Online to view and

print your verification of life

insurance (VOLI); (2) Email

to request

your VOLI, and include your

retirement claim number or

claim status inquiry number

(CSI) in your email; or (3) Call

1 (888) 767-6738 between

7:40 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern

Standard Time, M-F. Call early

as the line is often busy.

If you can’t locate your CSI

number, contact the Human

Resources Service Center in



gov or (866) 300-7419. Let us

know how you fare—retiree@ or (202) 944-5509.

We recommend that you keep

a record of your FEGLI cover-

age in a safe place and give

copies to your spouse and