AFSA Annual Report 2013
Retiree Vice President’s Report: Lawrence Cohen
As your vice president, I wish to highlight some of the retiree-related
issues in which AFSA is involved. Retiree benefits remain a target of
congressional cost-cutting. The move to a chained Consumer Price
Index method for calculating retiree benefits would reduce annuity pay-
ments only slightly in a single year. However, over time the impact of
the reduced payments rises. For younger and future retirees, the hit will
be significant. AFSA joined with other federal employee associations to
press for protection of these benefits.
Last August the State Department launched its new “centralized”
WAE (when actually employed) registry. Unfortunately, the new
program meets the needs of neither retirees seeking reemployment
opportunities nor the bureaus. In short, it does not substitute for the current system. We
continue to work collaboratively with the pertinent parts of the department to craft a better
registry system. Note that Foreign Service retirees from the other foreign affairs agencies are
also eligible to seek WAE work.
When visiting the State Department and its annexes, retirees ought to be afforded the
dignity they earned by their decades of service. Retirees may obtain passcode access badges.
Access for retirees to the Truman Building has improved in recent years. In some annexes,
despite the badges, building access even to unclassified areas remains a hassle. We continue to
press the department to facilitate retiree access in a dignified and hassle-free manner.
Unless one plans to expire at his or her desk—and a few of you may still be out there—all
career members of the Foreign Service ultimately become retirees. Thus, how AFSA helps
retirees today affects everyone, not just those who are no longer on active duty. Obviously,
your involvement and membership is vital. However, upon retirement, membership in AFSA
does not automatically transition. It must be renewed. HR and the Office of Retirement are
helping ease the retirement paperwork so that AFSA membership is not disrupted.
To stay involved outside the Washington, D.C., region, consider joining one of the Foreign
Service retiree associations around the country. AFSA updates the list of retiree associations
on its website regularly, and publishes its annual Retiree Directory to help keep Foreign Ser-
vice members connected.
By the close of 2013, we were in the process of bringing on Todd Thurwachter, retired
FCS FSO, as retiree coordinator.
Lastly, I want to thank Bonnie Brown, who retired in November, for her dedicated support
for Foreign Service retirees and many contributions to AFSA throughout 10 years of service.
She provided members with a wealth of information and was always there to assist and advise.
Her friendship and warmth will be missed. We wish her all the best in “retirement” from
AFSA Support for Retirees
Awards: Recognizing Our Best
AFSA’s awards are meant to highlight the best of the Foreign Service community,
from those who have promoted American diplomacy for decades to entry-level
officers on their first tours.
Ambassador George W. Landau
received the 2013
Lifetime Contributions to
American Diplomacy Award
, honoring his many years of diplomatic service.
With the help of the Tiny Jewel Box, AFSA designed a pin that combines an eagle
and the AFSA seal in a small but beautiful design to be worn by the recipients
of the Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. Ambassador Landau
became the first recipient of that pin.
AFSA strongly believes that our Foreign Service values a culture of honest and
vigorous debate within each of the foreign affairs agencies. To that end, AFSA
sponsors an annual awards program honoring those who have demonstrated the
courage to dissent in a constructive manner on a matter of policy or management.
W. Averell Harriman Award
, given to an entry-level Foreign Service
officer for constructive dissent, went to
James T. Rider
. His dissent changed
and clarified the law that allowed U.S. citizenship given to children abroad whose
parents lacked sufficient physical presence in the United States to transmit citi-
zenship to their children.
received the 2013
William R. Rivkin Award
, recognizing con-
structive dissent by a mid-level Foreign Service officer, for his advocacy of efforts
to improve Embassy Jakarta’s relations with the local Muslim community.
Avis Bohlen Award
honors the accomplishments of a Foreign Service family
member whose relations with the American and foreign communities at post have
done the most to advance the interests of the United States. The 2013 winner was
, who created a website for “Kids in Kyiv.”
M. Juanita Guess Award
recognizes outstanding leadership and initiative
in assisting official Americans and their family members serving overseas. AFSA
conferred this award on two recipients in 2013,
The 2013 winner of the
Nelson B. Delavan Award
, recognizing an Office Man-
agement Specialist’s contributions to effectiveness and morale, was
Sinclaire Language Awards
were conferred on
George Kennan Writing Award
, honoring the best paper by a State
employee enrolled at the National War College, went to FSO