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FRA Today – July 2015

Communications 2





History & Heritage 16


FRA’s Americanism Essay Contest 23




Looking for… 33

Meet Benjamin Young, FRA’s Assistant Director of Veterans Programs 34




A Wanderer is Always at Home

I admit it; I’m a self-proclaimed travel junkie. As a military brat and bride, my feet start to itch when I’ve been in one place too long. My travel bucket list expands by the day, not only in the number of destinations I want to visit, but also the scope and distance of the journeys I want to undertake. Many are far-flung adventures like walking along the Great Wall of China and witnessing the Great Migration across the Serengeti Plains. My father joined the Navy to “see the world,” so I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

In recent months I’ve started adding some of closer-to-home destinations to my wanderlust list — learning more about my ancestors at Ellis Island, whale-watching off the Pacific coast and visiting the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks. Researching this month’s feature story made my soul strain to also explore some of our lesser-known national treasures. I sincerely hope it inspires our readers in a similar fashion.

As our nation celebrates 239 years of independence, I hope you’ll also take a moment to celebrate the splendor and majesty of this great country. There’s a different glimpse of America down every backroad and around every corner, just waiting to be discovered. Find your special place — whether it is near or far — and be extra proud to call it your home.


Corrected Dates for the Southwest Regional Convention

The dates for the 2015 Southwest Regional Convention published on page 30 of the June issue of FRA Today were incorrect. The convention will be held on August 14 and 15 (not August 8 and 9 as printed). The remainder of the information we published about the Southwest Region’s convention is correct:

Dates: August 14 and 15, 2015

Location: Riverside Resort, Laughlin, Nevada 

Host: Branch and Unit 70

RSSW Darvin Dalrymple at 619-992-9886,
Unit VP Michelle Caston at 760-803-5656,

We apologize for any inconvenience that this misprint may have caused.

USS Chivo Reunion Correction

The reunion listing for USS Chivo (SS-341) in the May issue of FRA Today included a critical typographical error (the phone number and e-mail address got partially combined). The reunion information should read:

USS Chivo (SS-341): October 4–8, 2015, Myrtle Beach, SC. Contact Stan Pollard, 3016 Bayberry Cove, Wooster, OH 44691, 330-749-7151 or e-mail Further information is available at
Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at
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Leadership Resources

I want to start by thanking the National President and members of the National Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve as the National Vice President for the remainder of the 2014-2015 Association Year. With that being said, there is much to consider for the remaining months of this Association Year, including ways to address our shrinking membership, how to motivate our members to get out and educate the public about the Fleet Reserve Association and what we can do for prospective members.

I’m hearing all too often that branches want to turn in their charter or merge with another branch. The common reason is because many branch officers have held their positions for a number of years and are tired or in ill health; and nobody else is willing to step up to hold office or do what’s necessary to hold the branch together. Getting out the word to the younger generation that we are indeed here for them is to their advantage as much as ours.

It seems that we, as national, regional and branch officers, have failed to provide adequate training for all our members in what is involved in being an FRA leader. Officers at all levels of the FRA should have the knowledge of the Constitution and By Laws of the Association and be able to assist branches and shipmates who are having difficulty sustaining their membership and branch structure.

This is particularly important for those serving — or wishing to serve — as a regional president (RP). When holding an RP position, you are a member of the National Board of Directors and responsible for advancing the Association as a whole, as well as taking care of your respective region. It is essential that you stay involved with each branch in your region and assist them when they are having hardships. This starts by ensuring each branch is in good working order and it may be necessary for you to be there to help in recruiting members or assisting in establishing a slate of officers when needed. Assistance with information/recruiting booths and other outreach activities is also part of the RP’s membership-related responsibilities. Regional presidents should also keep in contact with the National Vice President, who oversees many facets of membership recruiting and retention.

Problems inevitably arise and each branch should know that assistance is available. Branch leaders and members should not wait to advise their regional president that they are struggling. Turning in the branch charter should be the last resort, not the only option. There are tremendous resources, including the vast experience of past regional and national officers, that can help when difficult situations arise.

Past branch and regional officers can also provide information and assistance when branches are doing their annual reports. It is not a requirement for each officer to be computer literate, but it does help. When in doubt, remember that support is just a telephone call away, whether it is to the regional president or a past officer of the branch.

As we move towards our upcoming national convention, I believe we need to put more emphasis on ways to increase membership, through recruiting and retention initiatives, and focus on ways to maintain the viability of our organization. We need to work together and share what we can do to benefit all current and former enlisted members of the Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard. Let’s focus on growing the FRA and sharing our positive and innovative ideas for the future.

Virgil Courneya was elected to serve as FRA’s national president during the 2013-2014 Association year and was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of National Vice President when Shipmate Roger Mitchell passed away. He is a member of Branch 274 (Reno, Nev.) and can be reached at

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