| FRA Today – March 2016
FROM THE FANTAIL 3
SHIPMATE FORUM 5
ON & OFF CAPITOL HILL 7
2016 Mid-Year Regional Meetings 13
MEMBERSHIP MATTERS 15
LOOKING FOR 29
Resolutions Deadline is June 14 30
NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES 31
NEWS FROM THE AUXILIARY OF THE FRA 33
Synergy results when the creation of a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This month’s feature story is about the Quilts of Valor Foundation, an organization that awards quilts to service members and veterans as a way to show our nation’s appreciation for their military service and sacrifice. This is a phenomenal example of synergy at its best.
In the most literal terms, the “parts” are simple scraps of fabric and the “whole” is a beautiful work of textile art. But the “results” are so much “greater” than a blanket to keep a person warm. These Quilts of Valor are tangible symbols of gratitude, and they provide calming comfort to those who receive them. These creations are made with love and respect by a team of individuals all working toward a common goal. The quilts are awarded with reverence and, in many cases, are the first and only public acknowledgement the recipient has ever received for his/her military contributions. The result is so much more than a “sum” of leftover yard goods.
FRA’s good work is also the result of tremendous synergy. Our individual shipmates (the parts) are scattered around the world and, when working together in concert with one another, create a powerful voice for our members. Our “whole” is making a difference for the entire military and veterans’ community. While our membership is restricted to current and former enlisted members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, FRA’s legislative victories pay dividends for every service member — past, present and future — regardless of branch of service. Like QOVF, FRA honors all who serve by preserving and enhancing pay, earned benefits and quality-of-life programs. We are stronger as a whole because of the sum of our parts.
FRA members have the opportunity to leverage this synergy in a variety of ways to benefit their individual lives, their communities and the association as a whole. Building positive relationships is the foundation of success in just about every human endeavor; I’m a firm believer that positive relationships are virtually guaranteed when one person extends him/herself to be supportive of someone or something else. Shipmates do this every day and are the very best “parts” that create the greater “whole” of the FRA.
Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Today’s Veterans Need Us
Today’s veterans have more information available at their fingertips than ever before. Technology has broken down the barriers and flung open the gates, and just about any knowledge they need is only an Internet search away. All of the data may be there, but it is arranged with no rhyme, reason, or most importantly, guidance. This is where FRA comes in: We are able to help them fill that crucial gap between knowing facts and discerning truth. Today’s vets are looking for a valued and reliable resource they can contact to help them navigate the possibilities and move forward successfully as they transition to civilian life.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Any investment today must be made carefully, using all available support and assurance. It’s sometimes said that it’s not how smart you are, but what areas you’re smart in; that is where FRA comes in, to fill the gaps in a veteran’s experience and becomes a resource of confidence. Young veterans are typically not joiners, but they do value credentials that match their needs and those of their families. When an organization like FRA can demonstrate tangible benefits to potential members, those prospects are likely to identify with the organization and join its cause.
FRA has recently become involved with Operation College Promise (OCP), an organization that serves veterans on college campuses, and we are working with organizers to develop a partnership that will not only help these deserving students, but will also facilitate a connection between them and the FRA.
Operation College Promise (www.operationcollegepromise.com) is a national policy, research and educational program that supports the transition and postsecondary advancement of our nation’s veterans. Originally a comprehensive web-based resource to centralize transition information for servicemembers, OCP was one of only 20 applicants awarded an ACE/Walmart Foundation Success for Veterans grant in 2009. Today, the project has partner institutions across the nation and has established a National Advisory Council (NAC) to support its rapidly broadening national mission to support veterans and servicemembers as they transition into higher education, and to assist higher educators in developing appropriate on-campus mechanisms to optimize success for this segment of their student population.
Educating veterans and those who serve them is a top priority of OCP. Major projects include the development of the nation’s first resource manual for veterans’ service providers, as well as the signature Certificate for Veterans’ Service Providers (CVSP) program. The CVSP training has been offered at four different locations, with more on the way. FRA and OCP are currently exploring ways in which our shipmates and FRA as a whole can support the OCP mission.
Campus leaders are often asked for help by veterans, but sometimes they are not prepared to provide the individual support required. FRA can be that connection and provide direct and valued information. In addition to disseminating OCP information to veterans and service members, OCP can direct student veterans to our Education Foundation Scholarship program, as well as our network of veteran service officers (VSOs) who can help them navigate the often-confusing process of applying for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education, medical and disability benefits. As FRA’s new Veteran Service Committee is established and strengthened, we will be even more prepared to be a reliable resource for these student veterans.
This new FRA standing committee will be working to develop programs to train branch and regional VSOs to help ease the transition for veterans into the academic world, as well as answer questions and provide information about the Post-9-11 GI Bill, FRA’s Education Foundation and other resources aimed at helping them succeed.
Not all of these student veterans are seeking degrees, and not all of their challenges are related to their pursuit of higher education. FRA can be there, either in person or a phone call away, to assist. Offering this type of assistance is part of our mission and also an opportunity to share the important work that FRA does outside the academic arena on behalf of service members and veterans. Vet-2-Vet discussions are the way to demonstrate Loyalty, offer Protection and provide Service to all veterans, many of whom could potentially become FRA shipmates.
As this initiative moves forward, branches and VSOs will be provided a list of their area college campuses and some resources for offering assistance to them. Let’s make this a GO, and make some waves. PRESS ON! Remember: “One 4 One” in membership. Make that difference for your fellow veteran and the FRA.
Tom Snee is FRA’s National Executive Director and can be reached at NEDFRA@fra.org.
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