AFSA Retiree Newsletter - February 2019

In this issue you will find:

  1. Federal Benefits Programs
  2. AFSA Planning a Full Day of Programming for Foreign Service Day
  3. What Comes Next, Post-FS Career? A New AFSA Programming Initiative
  4. Earned and Deserved Recognition – AFSA Foreign Service Medallions
  5. The AFSA Retiree Directory
  6. Want to Keep Abreast of All Things Fed-ish?
  7. Other Upcoming Events at AFSA
  8. Have You Found a Great Decisions Group in Your Area?
  9. Foreign Service Retiree Associations – a Great Way to Keep in Touch!
  10. Seeking Input from ConGen Jerusalem Alumni
  11. It's Time to Think About Nominating Colleagues for AFSA Awards!
  12. Contacting AFSA

Federal Benefits Programs

AFSA is committed to a full schedule of programs focusing on federal retirement and benefits issues. Here are the next two events:

  • On March 7 at 12:00 p.m., Certified Financial Planner Dwayne Jackson will speak at AFSA on financial planning issues that are relevant to both active-duty and retired AFSA members. Click here to register.
  • Then, on April 11 from 12:00-1:00 p.m., the former director of the State Department’s Office of Retirement will give an encore session of his popular presentation “Retirement Planning 5 to 10 Years Out.” Click here to register.
 

AFSA Planning a Full Day of Programming for Foreign Service Day

This year, Foreign Service Day will be celebrated at the State Department on Friday, May 3. Members interested in receiving information about the activities happening at the State Department should email foreignaffairsday@state.gov. Please also mark your calendars for AFSA’s Open House on Thursday, May 2 at its headquarters. In addition to offering a place to meet up with colleagues and friends for food and drink, we will have a professional photographer on hand taking complimentary professional head shots. We will also be offering a full day of programming, including an update on AFSA’s outreach and advocacy work, and presentations of professional and personal interest to both retired and active-duty members. If you’ll be in the Washington area we invite you to stop by and stay awhile.

No matter where you’ll be that first week in May, we hope you will participate in our annual coordinated letter-to-the-editor campaign in recognition of the important work of the Foreign Service. AFSA will provide a template letter and general talking points that can be tailored to your experience and/or your local community. Our goal is to leverage the occasion of Foreign Service Day to remind Americans that members of the Foreign Service are at work all around the world promoting and preserving the interests and values of the United States. Stay tuned for more information.

 

What Comes Next, Post-FS Career? A New AFSA Programming Initiative

AFSA is pleased to announce a new programming initiative dubbed “Next Stage,” which will focus on what are popularly known as “encore” careers. The idea of an “encore” career dates back to 1997, when a San Francisco based non-profit captured the phenomenon of people returning to work after retirement, sometimes in unrelated fields, sometimes for financial reasons, and at times with a prime goal to give back to society. These new programs will be geared to retired Foreign Service personnel and to active duty members who are considering their transition plans post-Foreign Service. They are meant to complement AFSA's ever-germane Federal Benefit Series programming that focuses on retirement benefits. Please be in touch with Retirement Benefits Counselor Dolores Brown at brown@afsa.org with any ideas regarding useful programming and stay tuned for further announcements!

 

Earned and Deserved Recognition – AFSA Foreign Service Medallions

You already may be aware, but for those who aren’t, AFSA commissioned an elegant, five-inch architectural bronze medallion, etched with a modification of the Great Seal and the words United States Foreign Service. Like those used for the various branches of the military, these medallions celebrate and commemorate the service of Foreign Service personnel and their spouses or partners. These high-quality medallions, which come in velour presentation boxes, can be used for presentation and commemorative purposes or be affixed to gravestones. For a photo of the medallion and information on how to order one visit www.afsa.org/medallion.

 

The AFSA Retiree Directory

All AFSA retiree members should have received their 2019 Directory of Retired Members, which provides the most up-to-date resources at your fingertips. This is a great resource for keeping in touch with friends and colleagues. The front section of the directory is designed to provide key information right at your fingertips. In addition to the “Who Does What” section which lists the contact information for all of the various agencies handling your retirement benefits, you will also find in this section includes concise articles on everything from how to review your retirement plan to making the decision to sign up for Medicare to different ways to raise awareness of the work of the Foreign Service in your local community. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the wealth of information provided the front of your directory. Please also take a minute to review your listing. If you need to update your information or haven’t yet received your copy of the directory, please email us at member@afsa.org. Finally, we recognize that not everyone wants a hard copy of the Directory and we want to offer you an easy way of opting out. If you do not want to receive a hard copy of the AFSA Retiree Directory next year, simply send an email to miele@afsa.org and we will ensure that you are removed from the directory mailing list.

 

Want to Keep Abreast of All Things Fed-ish?

The website www.FedSmith.com, a digital news service for current and former federal employees, is a useful way to stay in timely touch with a wide gamut of issues of interest to federal employees and retirees. A recent look on the page revealed articles on which TSP fund yielded over 11 percent in January and the state of play on back pay for federal contractors.

 

Other Upcoming Events at AFSA

On Tuesday, February 26 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. EST, please join us for our quarterly webinar with AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson who will detail the latest information and status of the current funding bill, vacancies and appointments, and the outlook for the 2020 budget. As we head into a new year with a two-year budget deal before us Ambassador Stephenson will provide insight into AFSA’s current advocacy focus at the national level and on Capitol Hill including the current messaging AFSA has found to be most effective to remind fellow Americans—including members of Congress—that America’s diplomats are ready and well-suited to confront the challenges to America’s global leadership. This webinar is geared toward our retired AFSA members who want to keep abreast of legislative and funding issues affecting the professional Foreign Service and/or to include in their outreach and advocacy efforts. We will discuss how retiree members, active and engaged in doing local outreach, can continue to amplify key messages in their communities and the resources AFSA has available. As always, there will be an opportunity for questions. We encourage you to join us. To register email events@afsa.org.

Here are a few of our other programs of interest in the coming weeks.

  • March 19: Panel discussion on resilience in the Foreign Service; panelists include Ambassador (ret.) Prudence Bushnell and retired FSO Beth Payne, director of the Center of Excellence in Foreign Affairs Resilience.
  • March 28: AFSA’s spring happy hour! Join us from 4:30-6:30.
  • April 10: Ambassador (ret.) William J. Burns comes to AFSA for a discussion of his brand-new book, “The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and a Case for Its Renewal.”

Stay tuned for separate invitations to these and other events.

 

Have You Found a Great Decisions Group in Your Area?

In the December AFSA Retiree Newsletter, we highlighted the Foreign Policy Association’s (FPA) Great Decisions program, which this year includes the topic “The State of the State Department and Diplomacy.” We put out the call for members to let us know if they are involved in a Great Decisions program. We were pleased to hear from folks as far north as Maine, as far south as Florida, as far west as Seattle, and many places in between, proving what we have known to be true—that many of you have taken up the mantle of local outreach and are generously volunteering your time and expertise to get the word out that a strong professional Foreign Service is critical to U.S. global leadership.

This effort will continue throughout the year and it’s not too late to get involved! We encourage you to find a Great Decisions group near you and lend your voice and expertise to the discussion. AFSA can provide you with a packet of talking points on this topic which outline the recent challenges to the Foreign Service as well as the opportunities moving forward and helps illustrate the connection between a strong Foreign Service workforce and prosperity at home.

If you have been invited to speak on the State of the State Department as a part of the 2019 Great Decisions program, or facilitate the discussion, please let AFSA know by filling out our online form. This helps provide insight into the geographic reach of AFSA members contributing to the discussion. AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson and Ambassador (ret.) Mary Carlin Yates recently appeared in conversations on the topic of “The State of the State Department” as a part of the annual Great Decisions program hosted by the World Affairs Council of Portland, Oregon. Click here to view the event. For more information or to get involved, please contact Christine Miele, Manager of Retiree Outreach and Engagement, at miele@afsa.org.

 

Foreign Service Retiree Associations – a Great Way to Keep in Touch!

You can find a full listing of Foreign Service Retiree Associations located around the country on the AFSA website at www.afsa.org/retiree-associations. Additionally, the Retiree Directory includes the same list with a write-up about the activities and organization of each of the retiree associations. These groups are varied in their size and activities – some offering lunch programs with speakers, while others are more focused on collegiality, and still others are active in outreach and advocacy. If you don’t have an association in your area, consider starting one! AFSA has information to help you get started and can also help by contacting fellow Foreign Service retirees in your area. If you’d like to learn more, contact Christine Miele, Manager of Retiree Outreach and Engagement, at miele@afsa.org.

 

Seeking Input from ConGen Jerusalem Alumni

After 175 years of diplomatic history in Jerusalem, Consulate General Jerusalem will be merged into U.S. Embassy Jerusalem. As the consulate seal is taken down, the team there is asking for your help in recording and telling the story of the consulate and its many years of good work on behalf of the United States. If you have served at Consulate General Jerusalem (active-duty or retired), please consider sharing memories, anecdotes, stories or photographs of your time there. Please send submissions and any questions to ConGenJTales@state.gov, or directly to Joanne Schmoll at SchmollJL@state.gov or Scott Rasmussen at RasmussenSR@state.gov by February 19. Thank you for helping capture the history of Consulate General Jerusalem.

 

It's Time to Think About Nominating Colleagues for AFSA Awards!

AFSA has started taking nominations for two of the key awards given out each October – for constructive dissent and exemplary performance. To learn more about the criteria for the dissent awards and how to nominate someone, please visit www.afsa.org/dissent. To learn more about the Performance Awards, the criteria, and how to nominate someone, please visit www.afsa.org/performance. You will also find a link on both pages to learn about previous recipients.

Nominations for these awards are due by Friday, May 24, 2019. If you have any questions about either award, please contact Perri Green, AFSA’s Awards Coordinator, at green@afsa.org or (202) 719-9700.

 

Contacting AFSA

We are here to help and love hearing from members. For assistance with retirement benefits and related issues, contact Retirement Benefits Counselor Dolores Brown at (202) 944-5510 or brown@afsa.org. For questions about outreach, retiree associations and our speakers bureau, contact Manager of Retiree Outreach and Engagement Christine Miele at (202) 944-5517 or miele@afsa.org. For address updates and obituary notifications, please contact Member Accounts Specialist Ashley Baine at (202) 338-4045 x525 or baine@afsa.org. AFSA Retiree Vice President John Naland is available at naland@afsa.org.