AFSA Retiree Newsletter - April 2017

In this issue you will find:

  1. Retirees Engaging with the Public and Their Communities
  2. Defending the Foreign Service: How You Can Help
  3. AFSA Elections – Please Vote!
  4. Reminder to Report Changes to Your Marital Status
  5. Getting the Most Out of Your Social Security
  6. AFSA Honors Ambassador (ret.) Nancy J. Powell
  7. Drop by AFSA’s Next Networking Happy Hour!
  8. Foreign Service Day Reception, May 5

Retirees Engaging with the Public and Their Communities

AFSA continues to emphasize the importance of outreach and public engagement to tell the story of the Foreign Service. There is no better person to tell that story than YOU – the person who devoted his or her career to the profession. We’d like to highlight some individuals who have participated in outreach events in the last few weeks.

  • Ohio: Retired Foreign Service Officer Todd Schwartz spoke at the Cincinnati Foreign Policy Leadership Council in late March on the topic “U.S. Foreign Policy – What Is It Now?”
  • Massachusetts: Retired FSO Larry Mandel met with international studies students at Northeastern University in Boston to talk about the Foreign Service and career options.
  • Indiana: DeMark Schulze, a retired FSO, discussed life in the Foreign Service and the importance of being a global citizen at the University of Notre Dame.
  • Texas: Retired FSO Molly O’Neal met with students at the University of Texas at Austin to explain the challenges and adventures of a life and career in the Foreign Service.

These engagements, and all those like them, make a difference. If you are interested in participating in AFSA’s outreach efforts, please join the AFSA Speakers Bureau if you have not done so already.

Defending the Foreign Service: How You Can Help

In the past few weeks, we have had many expressions of support from members, and questions about how members can help at this crucial moment. We have also received expressions of support, sometimes effusive support, from many on Capitol Hill—from both sides of the aisle.

For those of you who use social media, please go to AFSA’s Facebook page and “like” us. There is a compilation of quotes about the Foreign Service on our page. Feel free to use those quotes in emails, letters, and tweets. We also have the quotes on our Twitter account. Please re-tweet.

We invite the scribes among you to write thank you notes to Members of Congress who have expressed support for the Foreign Service – in addition to having their quotes on Facebook and Twitter, click here to find them all in one place on the AFSA website. In your thank you notes, feel free to include this general point on preserving core diplomatic capabilities, which we are making to everyone we contact: “It is crucial that America’s Foreign Service remains on the field, playing at the top of its game. Now is not the time to withdraw the team from the field and forfeit the game to our adversaries.”

Ask family members still residing in your home state to write their Members of Congress expressing support for the Foreign Service and the work you did during your career. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your family about that work and why it matters. If you or your family are active in a religious congregation, ask that prayers include “all those serving our country abroad” (whether in uniform or not).

Finally, donate to the Fund for American Diplomacy! This is a great way to contribute, and all donations go towards increasing and enhancing AFSA’s public outreach and education efforts.

AFSA Elections – Please Vote!

Ballots for the 2017-2019 AFSA Governing Board election were mailed on April 17. Retiree members may vote for the officer positions (president, retiree vice president, treasurer, secretary) as well as the two retiree constituency representatives. A town hall meeting with candidates took place on April 4; you may watch the event on the AFSA website at www.afsa.org/video. If you do not receive your ballot by May 8, 2017, please contact election@afsa.org and provide your full name, current address and telephone number. More information on elections is available at www.afsa.org/elections.

Reminder to Report Changes to Your Marital Status

Members may not realize that any spouse married 10 years of the employee’s creditable government service (at least five years in the Foreign Service) has an automatic right to a prorated share of the employee’s pension, up to 50%, and survivor benefit, provided they don’t remarry before the age of 55 or is otherwise provided for in a court order or spousal agreement. We offer two important reminders to members on this topic:

  • First, any waiver of pension or survivor benefits by a spouse in a divorce decree must expressly reference the Foreign Service Act to be valid.
  • Second, report any remarriage after a divorce within one year (FSRDS) or two years (FSPS), naming the new spouse as contingent beneficiary of any survivor benefit, even if the former spouse is already entitled to a survivor benefit. A contingent beneficiary is entitled to any portion of the survivor benefit not awarded to the divorced spouse in the divorce decree and 100% of the survivor benefit if the divorced spouse pre-deceases the annuitant or loses the survivor benefit by remarrying before the age of 55. Eligibility for a survivor benefit is also a requirement for a survivor to keep FEHB insurance coverage, whether or not they ever actually receive a survivor benefit.

Notify State’s Office of Retirement at HRSC@state.gov or call 866-300-7419 to report any changes in your marital status.

Getting the Most Out of Your Social Security

In case you were unable to attend our March 2 event on Social Security with subject matter expert Ed Zurndorfer, we are pleased to make it available to our members for online viewing. Simply visit www.afsa.org/video to watch the program, or any other AFSA program that may be of interest to you. For a brief summary of the program, click here.

AFSA Honors Ambassador (ret.) Nancy J. Powell

This year’s recipient of AFSA’s award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy is Ambassador (ret.) Nancy J. Powell. She is being honored for her inspirational 37-year Foreign Service career and her endless dedication to mentoring new generations of Foreign Service and Civil Service colleagues. Read more about Ambassador Powell at www.afsa.org/lifetime, and join us for the annual AFSA awards ceremony on June 20 at 4:00 p.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.

Drop by AFSA’s Next Networking Happy Hour!

Please join us at AFSA’s next networking happy hour on May 25 at 4:30 p.m.—to catch up with old friends, connect with new colleagues, and share stories and survival tips with fellow members of the FS family. Non-alcoholic beverages and light snacks will be served; $5 drink tickets for wine and beer will also be available. You may register online or email events@afsa.org.

Foreign Service Day Reception, May 5

We invite all retirees to join us for the annual Foreign Service Day reception at AFSA headquarters following the end of the official programs at the Department of State. Please stay tuned for a separate announcement for this reception.