The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2020

80 JULY-AUGUST 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Mid-Term Progress Report At the halfway point in my term as your Retiree Vice President for 2019-2021, here are highlights of what the AFSA staff and I have been doing in service to our retired members. Defending Earned Bene- fits. Though President Trump continues to seek drastic cuts in federal retirement benefits, neither chamber of Congress has advanced those proposals. That is in part due to the lobbying efforts of the Federal-Postal Coalition, in which AFSA is an active participant along with the large Civil Service unions. I attend the coalition’s monthly planning meetings. News You Can Use. In the past year, we have expanded our efforts to provide you with expert advice on ben- efits issues. AFSA Retirement Benefits Counselor Dolores Brown has posted signifi- cant new content on AFSA’s retirement services web- pages ( services). She also expanded AFSA’s retirement-focused lecture series, posting recordings of those presentations online for viewing by members worldwide. We also continued producing our bimonthly digital Retirement Newsletter featuring “news you can use.” Drawing from my experi- ence as a former director of the Department of State’s Office of Retirement, I con- tributed substantive content for the website, retiree news- letters and the introductory guidance section of AFSA’s annual Directory of Retiree Members. I also gave several live presentations on federal benefits and produced an updated third edition of my “Retirement Planning 101” guide, published in the April 2020 Foreign Service Journal . Member Advocacy and Counseling. Dolores Brown continues to provide one-on- one assistance to members who have questions about, or problems with, their retirement benefits. When needed, she contacts the Office of Retirement to seek assistance on behalf of members. Additional Duties as Assigned. As an AFSA Governing Board member, I have taken on several additional duties. I am chair of the Scholarship Commit- tee, which this year awarded $352,000 to 100 Foreign Service youths. As a member of the Awards and Plaques Com- mittee, I am leading the effort to honor colleagues whose deaths in the line of duty were overlooked when AFSA created the Memorial Plaque in 1933 (see “The Foreign Service Honor Roll” in the May 2020 Foreign Service Journal ). I am also on AFSA’s Political Action Committee and our Legal Defense Fund Committee. Looking ahead to the final year of the current Govern- ing Board, AFSA staff and I will continue to advocate for our members and provide information and guidance on retiree benefits issues. If you have suggestions or comments, you can reach me at . n RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Contact: AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, May 20, 2020 Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social-dis- tancing recommendations, the AFSA Governing Board met via teleconference on May 20. The board made the following decisions, which will need to be ratified at the next in-person Governing Board meeting, according to AFSA bylaws. AFSA Memorial Plaque: The board approved four diplomatic couriers who died in the 1940s to 1960s to be inscribed on the AFSA Memorial Plaques. Membership Committee: The board approved two new associate members to serve on the Membership Committee. Legal Defense Fund: The board approved reimburse- ment for three members’ legal bills: for up to $36,959 for one member; $33,516 for a second; and $10,350 for a third. Additionally, the Board appointed Holly Kirking Loomis to the Legal Defense Fund Committee. n