The Foreign Service Journal, September 2009

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 9 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 59 A F S A N E W S M y participation in the recently concluded AFSA Governing Board election was an eye-opener. I was dumbfounded by the low voter turnout among active, dues-paying members in the State con- stituency, despite a lively campaign by two slates and a number of independent candidates. A similarly anemic retiree vote was less sur- prising; but what did shock me was the number of distinguished retired col- leagues and friends who did not vote. Why not? When I asked, they sheepishly explained that they were no longer members of AFSA. With all due respect, they need to re-engage not only in their own self-interest, but for the sake of the ca- reer in which they spent their working lives and in recognition of the importance of diplomacy in the pursuit of our national security. As your new vice president for retired members, let me tell you where I am coming from. A little more than 40 years ago, during my first tour in Wash- ington, I joined the AFSA Gov- erning Board. At that time we made the decision to seek ex- clusive recognition for AFSA as the bargaining agent for our membership with manage- ment. Some termed it union- ization. I prefer to think of it as the broadening of our profes- sional association to incorpo- rate powers requiring management to work with us on issues and policies essential to the health of the Foreign Service. Today we are, incontestably, a hybrid organization, simultaneously pursuing bread-and-butter issues along with professional concerns. The recent policy changes on locality pay and equity for same-sex partners are testaments to the im- portance of the union role and the tenacity and skill of the outgoing board. More work will be needed in the months ahead to solidify these achievements. Health- care reform — and the need for additional resources to finance it — will more than likely present challenges to existing benefits. For retirees, this includes in- creases in Medicare payments. The surge of political appointees as ambassadors in the new administration underlines the dubious regard of many for the Foreign Service as a profession. AFSA today needs to be more vigorously engaged in strengthening and promot- ing the Service. The AmericanAcademy for Diplomacy has done exemplary work in making the case for more resources for the Department of State and the For- eign Service, in particular. Changing attitudes in Congress and the realization of our Defense Department brethren — uniformed and civilian — that they need us more than ever, require immediate exploitation. I and the other board members representing the retired community want your feedback. My e-mail address is . I look forward to hearing from you. ❏ V.P. VOICE: RETIREE ■ BY ROBERT HOUDEK Our Stake in AFSA AFSA Confers Nearly $160,000 in College Scholarship Aid AFSA has awarded need-based under- graduate scholarships for the 2009-2010 school year, totaling $158,800, to 73 children of Foreign Service employees. Of this amount, $78,900 was sent to colleges in August to cover students’ 2009 fall semester expenses. Nineteen of these scholarships, total- ing $40,000, were funded by the DACOR Bacon House Foundation; and four, totaling $8,000, were funded by the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. A complete listing of students and their awards will be posted on AFSA’s Web site at and in the January 2010 issue of the Foreign Service Journal. AFSA also thanks many other individuals and organizations for their scholarship support under this program. Awards range from $1,000 to $3,500, depending on the family’s financial situ- ation. Tax-dependent children of active duty, retired and/or deceased Foreign Service parents are eligible. Beginning Nov. 15, you may visit scholar to download the application instructions and forms to apply for an AFSA merit award and/or financial aid scholarship for the 2010-2011 school year. Applications are due by Feb. 6, 2010. For more details, contact Scholarship Director Lori Dec at . Today we are, incontestably, a hybrid organization, simultaneously pursuing bread-and-butter issues along with professional concerns.