The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2023

62 JULY-AUGUST 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL The Journey Continues RETIREE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Contact: This month, I complete my 12th year on the AFSA Governing Board. During my service as president, State vice president, and now retiree vice president, I have written more than 100 essays and articles in The Foreign Service Journal . The essay that generated the most positive feedback was my September 2008 president’s column, “The Journey.” That column advocated viewing a career in the Foreign Service as a journey rather than a destination. It argued that colleagues who focus on rushing up the promotion lad- der risk “always becoming but never being” by not making the most of where they are at each given moment. Instead, the column encouraged focusing on day-to-day experiences and contributions—both in the office and with family and other non-work activities. The column acknowledged that, due to needs of the Service, even those who try to enjoy the journey must take their fair share of dif- ficult and even dangerous assignments. But it encour- aged maintaining a healthy work-life balance over the long run. I wrote that column as an active-duty FSO preparing to deploy to Iraq on a one-year unaccompanied tour leading a provincial reconstruction team. Now, as a retiree 15 years farther down the road of my own journey, my phi- losophy remains the same— to try to make the most of where I am now. But I have gained a deeper understand- ing of the bumps along the way. I recently became the primary caregiver for a close family member. While the challenges are substantial, it also gives me a new purpose in life. I strive to make the most of every day—know- ing that the number is finite. Being a caregiver is now my primary job, but I continue to try to contribute elsewhere to maintain a healthy balance of activities. If you face unexpected difficulties or disappoint- ments, I encourage you to draw on the resilience skills that we learned in the Foreign Service. They include focus- ing on what is under your control, understanding that you control your reaction to events, focusing on core val- ues that motivate and guide you, knowing when to pivot to Plan B, and asking for help when needed. If you do suffer a setback, keep in mind the words of Nelson Mandela: “Do not judge me by my success; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up.” n Please check for the most up-to-date information. July 3-4 Independence Day AFSA Offices Closed July 10 FAS Global Attaché Conference at USDA July 15 2023-2025 AFSA Governing Board Takes Office July 19 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Youth Awards Ceremony and Reception July 19 12-2 p.m. First Meeting of the 2023-2025 AFSA Governing Board July 20 Welcome Lunch for State Class August 16 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting September 4 Labor Day AFSA Offices Closed September 22 7:05 p.m. Foreign Service Night at Nationals Park CALENDAR In the column I encouraged focusing on day-to-day experiences and contributions —both in the office and with family and other non-work activities. PCS: Know Before You Go AFSA’s advocacy and public policy issues team has rounded up the newest legis- lation affecting FS members, particularly as they make permanent change of station (PCS) transfers. Breaking leases and ending contracts. The AFSA-supported Foreign Service Families Act in the National Defense Authoriza- tion Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (NDAA) extends provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to the Foreign Service regarding the termination of certain leases and contracts. For years, AFSA had advocated for the Foreign Service to receive exceptions parallel to those enjoyed by military members. The Foreign Service Fami- lies Act gives FS members the ability to break residential and motor vehicle leases and telephone service contracts without early termination charges when given orders to serve overseas, in accor- dance with 50 U.S. Code sections 3955 and 3956 or sections 305 and 305A of the SCRA. Building on this advocacy win, AFSA also worked with Continued on page 69