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Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP.
AFSA Needs Retirees and Retirees Need AFSA
Recently, I had the honor of
addressing an A-100 Class
during a membership recruit-
ment luncheon at AFSA
headquarters. Five days later
I spoke to colleagues from
State, USAID and Commerce
on the last day of FSI’s job
search program, urging them
to continue their member-
ship in AFSA.
These two events—one
for those just beginning their
Foreign Service careers, the
other for those concluding
rich and full Foreign Service
careers—reminded me again
of the unique nature of AFSA.
No other entity in or outside
the federal government is
both a bargaining unit and a
professional association.
It is easy for us to overlook
the professional associa-
tion aspect of AFSA. For our
active duty members, the
role of AFSA as the sole
bargaining unit of the Foreign
Service is paramount. Many
of our members rely on AFSA
to assist them in pressing
their case with management
or standing up
for fair treatment
of the Foreign
Service, including
family members
and members of
household. AFSA
has a long and
distinguished his-
tory of successes
in fighting for
the individual and collective
rights of our members.
More than 75 percent of
active-duty Foreign Service
employees are members
of AFSA, attesting to the
important role the organiza-
tion plays in their careers. Yet
far fewer colleagues remain
in AFSA once they retire from
active-duty. Of the potential
pool of retiree members,
fewer than 25 percent are
members of AFSA. Why is
Retired members may feel
they no longer need AFSA as
a union or the services pro-
vided by its staf. Those who
have moved away from D.C.
may feel there’s no benefit
in continued AFSA member-
ship. Such views overlook the
incredible value of AFSA as a
professional association.
We retirees are not con-
strained by law and custom:
we can speak openly to our
elected representatives
about the challenges we and
our families face, and to aid
us in fighting against legisla-
tion that will afect current
and retired members. So
AFSA and retiree members
across the U.S. are active
participants in the federal
and postal coalition, “Amer-
ica Counts on Us” campaign,
to reverse political attacks
on federal employees and
This summer AFSA’s Gov-
erning Board unanimously
approved the creation of the
Professionalism and Ethics
Committee, which includes
retiree as well as active-duty
members. While the PEC
will rightly focus initially on
active-duty members, it may
ultimately explore the role
emeritus members—both
as individuals and through
retiree associations—can
play in contributing to the
professional development
and image of the Foreign
Recent retirees enjoy the AFSA-
DACOR reception at the Foreign
Service Institute on Sept. 1.
2013 AFSA Performance Awards
Call for Nominations
AFSA encourages members to consider nominating
a colleague or family member for exemplary perfor-
mance. For procedures, forms and how to submit
a nomination for the 2013 Performance Awards,
please go t
Deadline for nominations is Feb. 28, 2013. For
further information, please contact AFSA’s Coordi-
nator for Special Awards and Outreach Perri Green,
More on the 2013 Performance
Awards in the December issue of
AFSA Scholarship Applications
Are Now Being Accepted
Applications for AFSA scholarships—Academic and
Art Merit Awards for high school seniors (top prizes
are $2,000), and need-based Financial Aid Scholar-
ships for undergraduate college study (aid ranges
from $1,000 to $4,000)—are now being accepted.
Children of AFSA and AAFSWmembers are
eligible (please note that grandchildren of Foreign
Service employees are ineligible). For more informa-
tion, please visit
or contact
Lori Dec at (202) 944-5504 or