AFSA Retiree Newsletter - June 2017

In this issue you will find:

  1. Nobody Tells Our Story Better Than You
  2. Let’s Talk About Retirement
  3. AFSA Elections – Meet Your New Board
  4. Serving Retirees on Foreign Service Day
  5. Meet This Year’s Dissent and Performance Award Recipients
  6. Join AFSA at an Upcoming Event!
  7. Are You a Foreign Service Author?

Nobody Tells Our Story Better Than You

AFSA continues to emphasize the importance of outreach and public engagement to tell the story of the Foreign Service. We’d like to highlight some individuals who have participated in outreach events in the last few weeks.

  • Virginia: On May 30, AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson spoke to a group of 20 foreign affairs retirees at Patriots Colony, outside of Williamsburg. James Bullington, retired FSO and an active member of AFSA’s Speakers Bureau, has revived the once-active group of retirees in the area. Patriots Colony hosted the event and seeks to attract more Foreign Service retirees to their continuing care retirement community.
  • Montana: Ambassador (ret.) John Limbert met with students at the University of Montana in Missoula, and also delivered the keynote address at a conference on central and southwest Asia.
  • Maine: Retired FSO Louis Sell spoke during commencement ceremonies at the University of Maine in Farmington.
  • North Carolina: Ambassador (ret.) Patricia Butenis spoke to the North Carolina Friends of the Foreign Service group in Durham about her experiences in Sri Lanka and ongoing challenges in the region.
  • Pennsylvania: Retired FSO John Champagne spoke on “American Diplomacy at Risk” to a very receptive audience at the World Affairs Council of Greater Reading.

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. Please click here to see how AFSA is doing on its 50-state outreach plan.

Let’s Talk About Retirement

In case you missed AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson’s May 30 message to members on retirement benefits and the Trump Administration’s budget proposal, we urge you to read it in whole.

In the message, Ambassador Stephenson discussed proposed changes to the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), including higher retirement contributions, loss of the Social Security supplements, and the elimination of the cost of living adjustment (COLA).

When the situation calls for it, AFSA will work with larger players on the federal benefits scene, such as NARFE, in order to help protect the promises made to federal employees and retirees at the time when they signed up for federal service.

Most importantly, in her words, “I am counting on you to do your part by explaining to friends, family, and, yes, members of Congress, the realities of your service and the realities of our pensions. It will take our best diplomatic skills to discuss these issues without whining or seeming ungrateful. But you are in the Foreign Service because you have those skills.”

AFSA Elections – Meet Your New Retiree Representatives and AFSA-Wide Officials

Ballots for the 2017-2019 AFSA Governing Board election were counted on June 8. We are pleased to introduce the new board retiree team: John Naland was elected as the vice president for the retiree constituency, and Ambassador (ret.) Al La Porta and retired FAS officer Philip Shull are the new retiree representatives. Stay tuned for John’s first retiree VP column in the September issue of AFSA News, and for regular updates from the new team. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson was re-elected for a second term; Ambassador (ret.) Earl Anthony 'Tony' Wayne is the incoming treasurer, and Ambassador (ret.) Tom Boyatt will serve as board secretary,

Serving Retirees on Foreign Service Day

Retirees kept AFSA’s information table busy at this year’s Foreign Service Day (Friday, May 5) at Main State. The newly-digitally-archived Foreign Service Journal online was a big draw, sparking discussion of the many other benefits of AFSA membership. Attendees were very interested in AFSA’s Daily Media Digest, a clipping service of news articles, opinion pieces and blog posts on Foreign Service related topics. Others were pleased to learn that AFSA buys Consumers’ Checkbook as a service for its retired members to help them save on their FEHB Health Insurance, and other valuable assistance navigating retirement decisions. Many were not fully aware of the wealth of information and benefits available to AFSA members who log in at

Over 70 former Foreign Service members took flyers detailing the benefits provided to retired AFSA members. At least a dozen non-members took application forms; three even filled them out and turned them in on the spot! These new members were given a 2017 AFSA Directory of Retired Members, one of the most valuable benefits for retirees, enabling them to connect with Foreign Service colleagues and friends, a benefit also available to members digitally, when they login to Members were encouraged to sign up for the AFSA Speakers Bureau and to help tell our proud Foreign Service story. Of course, the most important reason to continue AFSA membership in retirement is our Foreign Service legacy: staying connected and adding your voice to educate Americans on the critical role the Foreign Service plays in advancing American interests and American global leadership.

Meet This Year’s Dissent and Performance Award Recipients

AFSA is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2017 awards for constructive dissent and exemplary performance. We have a diverse group of twelve recipients and three runners-up, who will be honored at the annual AFSA Awards Ceremony in the Dean Acheson Auditorium on June 20 at 4:00 p.m. Please visit to learn more about the recipients.

Join AFSA at an Upcoming Event!

Our next Networking Happy Hour will take place on July 12; $5 tickets for wine and beer will be available for sale and light snacks will be served. These events are great opportunities to catch up with old friends and colleagues. Then, on July 13 at 12:00 p.m., Foreign Service Officer and prolific author Matthew Palmer returns to AFSA to discuss his new thriller featuring a Foreign Service protagonist, Enemy of the Good. Then, on September 14, we welcome Harry Kopp and John Naland in a discussion of the brand-new third edition of their book, Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service. Click here to visit AFSA’s events calendar.

Are You a Foreign Service Author?

In November The Foreign Service Journal will celebrate the wealth of literary talent within the Foreign Service community with its annual “In Their Own Write” edition. Foreign Service-affiliated authors whose books have been published in 2016 or 2017 are invited to send us a copy of the book, along with a press release or backgrounder on it. Deadline for submissions is Sept. 1. For more information, please email