Why I’m an AUSA Life Member
Michael Turley, Maj (ret), USAF
Why would an Air Force officer become an AUSA member? And why a LIFE member? I can tell you very simply… people, people, people!
We The People
For the last eight years of my Air Force career, I served as a liaison to the Army. For five years before that, I served the Air Force as a C-130 pilot. I am amazed at how personal relationships within the US Army are actually so personal! I was constantly impressed by the level of emotional support and camaraderie that exists among Army soldiers (even those who don’t get along with each other) – and, years later, how that camaraderie translates into “beer stories” and other relationship-building opportunities. To quote Tracy Lawrence, “You find out who your friends are.” As a retiree and – now – private citizen and businessman, I am equally amazed at how those “beer stories” have turned into bona fide business/networking opportunities. “We served together in Afghanistan” seems to carry its own personal recommendation and credibility in the same way that (proudly!) wearing an XVIII ABC or 82 ABD “combat” patch on the right shoulder of my Air Force BDUs carried its own weight while I served on active duty.
Programs! Get Your Programs!
In case you haven’t heard of “Lead Command”, it’s the title given to the organization, agency, Major Command (MACOM or MAJCOM), or service branch to be in charge of a particular program. Well, the way I see it, AUSA is “Lead Command” advocate for every pay/benefit that affects every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman! Just like the US Army has the preponderance of military service members (active duty, National Guard, or Reserve), AUSA has the preponderance of members (including retirees and families). As our collective and largest-membered advocate, AUSA is to lobbying Congress what Wal-Mart is to “buying power”! I’m an Air Force Association (AFA) Life Member because of what AFA does to take care of my Air Force specific interests – but I’m an AUSA Life Member because of its power to take care of my pay (active, retired, and Reservist), my family (better end-strengths mean less and/or shorter deployments/separations from my family), and military quality of life (commissary advocacy, school advocacy). AUSA was also “lead command” advocate for increase in life insurance benefits – for ALL service members (not just Army)! AUSA has secured over a dozen additional member services, discounts, and programs thanks to their “purchase” influence; for example, the Choice Hotels International Discounts includes nine hotel chains!
As a Life Member in six military professional associations, I’ve attended several annual conventions. I’m always in awe of the latest technologies, innovations, and programs that corporations are hoping to introduce to the convention-goers. I’m also impressed by the quality of the professional seminars, banquet/catering facilities, and awards/recognition ceremonies. If you took the other five associations, put all their corporations and convention-goers in the same main building and nearby hotels at the same time, they still wouldn’t be bigger combined than AUSA’s annual meeting in the Washington, DC, Convention Center. During those few days, more US and coalition generals wander the great halls of the Convention Center than I’ve seen anywhere except the Pentagon. Those same corporations present their technologies and innovations to help US and coalition forces defeat the enemy – and the AUSA annual meeting is the place to be! If you have one convention to go to each year, AUSA’s is the one. It’s also the place to share “beer stories” with friends you haven’t seen in awhile… which brings us back to the first “people” reason.
The Need for Special-Interest Organizations and Associations
As far as professional associations are concerned, it is vital for you to support your particular branch and/or special interest – those organizations focus their efforts (particularly their lobbying efforts to Congress) on taking care of their/your special needs (such as National Guard, VFW, American Legion, etc.). When it comes specifically to pay and benefits for you and your family, those organizations tie their special interests (retiree pay tied to active-duty pay, hazardous-duty pay, etc.) to AUSA’s “Lead Command” efforts regarding pay in general.
Why AUSA Can Charge So Little (Dues) To Give You So Much (Benefits)
Face it – some of your special-interest associations charge an exorbitant annual membership fee. Why? Because they have to! Representing your special interest takes resources, and you fund those resources through your dues. Why, then, are AUSA’s dues so inexpensive? Let’s go back to the Wal-Mart example… AUSA can lower the cost to you individually because they can build their resources based on collective membership volume! Those cost savings are passed on to you in terms of powerful influence to advocate, network, and protect you, your family, and your future. Since your special-interest association doesn’t have the volume membership, their lobbying resources cost more per member.
So… the next time you ask a professional association why you should join them (“What’s in it for me?”), it’s easy for AUSA to answer… EVERYTHING WE DO IS IN IT FOR YOU!