The Foreign Service Journal, June 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2018 51 Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP. Contact: | (703) 437-7881 RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN NALAND AFSA NEWS Progress Report As the current AFSA Govern- ing Board nears the halfway point of its two-year term, here is a progress report on what AFSA staff and I have done in service to our nearly 3,500 retiree members: Retiree Newsletter: We have expanded the bimonthly digital newsletter to include more “news you can use” on benefits issues. We also added active-duty employees to the distribu- tion to help them prepare better for retirement. Retiree Directory: In the introductory guidance section, we included a new essay, “Reviewing Your Retirement Plans,” detail- ing 25 topics meriting your review to determine if any mid-course corrections are needed in your retirement plans. Federal Benefits Series: We continued AFSA’s lecture series, which provides expert advice to retirees and pre- retirees. The presentations are recorded for later view- ing on the AFSA website, and one presentation was offered via live webinar, viewable worldwide. Member Advocacy: We revived the practice of meet- ing with the director of the State Department’s Office of Retirement to raise issues affecting Foreign Service retirees. Defending Earned Ben- efits: We are actively partici- pating in the 30-organization Federal-Postal Coalition, lobbying Congress to oppose cuts to federal retirement benefits. Retiree Counseling: We have provided one-on-one assistance to members who have questions about, or problems with, their retire- ment benefits. Retiree Outreach: We have enlisted retirees across the country to help tell the story of the Foreign Service to local audiences to build broad support for funding for diplomacy and develop- ment. As one of 20 Governing Board members, I have taken on additional duties, includ- ing chairing the AFSA Schol- arship Committee, being a member of the AFSA Political Action Committee and serv- ing as AFSA’s lead negotiator in nominating retirees to positions on the Foreign Ser- vice Grievance Board. Looking ahead to the final year of the current Govern- ing Board, we plan to update and expand the AFSA web- site’s retiree services section to provide more information and guidance on retiree benefits issues. I will work with AFSA’s professional staff to ensure that the expert one-on-one assistance we have been providing remains available. If you have suggestions or comments, you can always reach me at naland@ . n AFSA Hosts Expelled Diplomats On April 10 AFSA invited the Foreign Service members who were recently expelled from U.S. missions in Russia to AFSA headquarters to discuss the impact their expul- sion was having on their careers and families. More than a dozen members of the Foreign Service from the embassy and consulates stopped in to share their experiences and catch up with the colleagues with whom they’d been serving in Russia just a few days earlier. AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson attended to explain to attendees what AFSA can do and is doing on their behalf as they settle into their new normal. n CALENDAR June 3-8 AFSA Road Scholar Program Chautauqua, N.Y. June 7 12-1 p.m. AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson Speaks to Oasis Lifelong Learning Group in Maryland June 20 12-1:30 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting July 4 Independence Day – AFSA Offices Closed July 18 12-1:30 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting August 15 12-1:30 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting September 3 Labor Day – AFSA Offices Closed September 7 7:05 p.m. Third Annual Foreign Service Night at Nationals Park: Nationals vs. Cubs October 10 4-6 p.m. Annual AFSA Awards Ceremony