To say there’s a lot going on at FRA National Headquarters (NHQ) these days would be a supreme understatement! In addition to our newly elected leaders (see page 28) and new staff members, we’ve also updated our website and have a new mobile application for iPhones and iPads!
The new FRA website has a different look and feel, but much of the content and structure is unchanged. Visitors will immediately notice the new Home page, which includes relevant headline news, Tom Philpott’s weekly “Military Update” article and the most recent “Sgt Shaft” column by John Fales.
One of the most exciting features of the new site is the Advocacy tab that’s located front-and-center on the Home Page. This tab is the gateway to a wealth of FRA information, including news items that are arranged by their relevance to FRA’s key legislative issues. (Simply click the Advocacy tab and then select Latest News from the menu that will appear above it.) In addition to the Association’s legislative agenda and congressional testimony, this tab is also your link to the FRA Action Center, where shipmates and others can send prewritten letters (or write their own) to share their concerns with members of Congress via e-mail.
NewsBytes, our weekly e-mail update, is now accessible on the website in two ways: Each NewsBytes article (which used to appear on the Home page) is now published in the Latest News section (under the Advocacy tab) each Friday. To view all the NewsBytesstories at once, you can click on the Publications tab on the Home page. Or better yet, you can have NewsBytes delivered directly to your in-box. The number of NewsBytes subscribers is growing and we’d love to add you to our distribution list. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “Subscribe” in the subject line and your name and address in the body. Shipmates without Internet access can dial 1-800-FRA-1924 (ext. 112) to hear a recorded version of this legislative update.
We’ve also made it easier for shipmates to visit the FRA website from their mobile devices. We’ve created a mobile app (currently available at no charge for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch at the Apple Store) to give users a better small-screen experience. You can access the FRA Action Center, read the latest news, get details of FRA events, locate nearby branches, access and edit your membership information (including joining and renewing), and more. Search for it in the Apple store or use this direct link: www.fra.org/mobileapp. Although the app is currently only available for Apple products, our IT team is working on an Android version, which we hope to make available soon.
I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve as FRA’s National President for the Association Year 2013–2014, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the shipmates for their support during my campaign. The warm and friendly hospitality that was shown during my visits around the regions was unbelievable and I’m sincerely grateful. Shipmates may be interested to know that I’m fully retired now and able to devote much of my time to the position of FRA National President.
My goal for the coming year is to work with determination to strengthen the Fleet Reserve Association and there are several areas that will require the attention of our shipmates.
Our primary focus for the future is membership, and our organization must rely on each and every shipmate to participate in our recruiting and retention efforts. Each FRA branch, no matter how large or how small, must develop recruiting and outreach initiatives that will make FRA more noticeable in the community and promote the great work FRA does to support current and former enlisted personnel and their families. We must also find ways to keep current shipmates engaged and involved. This is key to sustaining our organization into the future and the National Board of Directors will be soliciting plans from each region on ways they are working to strengthen our membership and our collective voice on Capitol Hill.
During the past year, we’ve seen many branches struggle, often because shipmates have not been fully informed about where to turn for help when challenges arise. Regional presidents, who should be well informed on policy and procedures, are the first line of defense for branches that need assistance and can be great resources for resolving problems. Instituting training programs throughout the Association and continuing to review our Constitution and Bylaws will help ensure we can keep these branches in good working order.
Our National Headquarters (NHQ) has had many recent changes, including the retirement of NED Joe Barnes and Alicia Landis, our director of administration. I want to publicly acknowledge Joe’s commitment to the FRA and the dedicated efforts he’s put forth to advance the Association as a whole. He’s been in the forefront of FRA’s legislative work and always made certain that shipmates and families were informed to the best of his ability. NED Joe never wavered from his responsibility to the FRA and his open-door policy has benefited many shipmates. Shipmates bestowed the title of “Emeritus” to NED Barnes for his steadfast support of the FRA — a fitting honor for this outstanding shipmate, who will truly be missed by all. Best wishes to Joe and Patty Barnes in their future endeavors.
Alicia Landis, who has worked with and for FRA for many years, is also leaving the Association. She has been the “go-to” staff member for many shipmates who needed assistance, and her professionalism and unparalleled knowledge of the FRA have allowed her to answer questions and resolve conflicts with grace and good humor. Thank you, Alicia, for your dedication to the Association. We will all surely miss you.
I congratulate Shipmate Tom Snee, who was elected to be FRA’s next NED, and Shipmate Teresa Wiener for her selection to serve as FRA’s administrative director. I will be working with them and the rest of our NHQ team to review our current programs and explore ways to improve communication and operations in order to ensure the Association continues to provide the high level of support our members have come to expect.
I look forward to working with the shipmates and NHQ staff to seize every opportunity to advance our mission and strengthen our great organization. With the budgetary challenges facing our nation, our legislative work is cut out for us and we will be put to the test to ensure our members’ pay and benefits are not compromised. I have no doubt we will continue in our faithful service to our shipmates and make certain our Association thrives for many years to come.
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