The Foreign Service Journal, September 2019

54 SEPTEMBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LOOK I NG AHEAD TO THE FORE I GN SERV I CE AND AFSA CENTENN I AL NEWS BRIEF The United States Foreign Service and its professional association, the American Foreign Service Association, were both founded in 1924. Commemorating that centennial in 2024 will provide a unique opportunity to increase understanding among the media, Congress and American people about the vital role of the Foreign Service in sustaining American global leadership. To begin to plan for that celebration, the AFSA Governing Board established a Centennial Celebration Com- mittee at its July 17 meeting. The committee is chaired by AFSA Retiree Vice President John Naland, who was on the Governing Board during the 75th anniversary celebration in 1999. Other committee members are AFSA Secretary Ken Kero-Mentz and Retiree Representative Mary Daly. The committee will identify the best ideas for marking the centennial and will determine the steps required to implement them. Toward that end, later this year the committee will issue a call for suggestions from AFSA members and other interested parties. n AFSA NEWS RETIRE VP VOICE | BY JOHN K. NALAND AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA Retiree VP. Contact: Strength in Numbers Thank you for continuing your AFSA membership in retirement! While more than 80 percent of new Foreign Service members join AFSA, the membership percentage drops below 40 percent after retirement. You are among those who understand the value of continuing to sup- port AFSA as a retiree, and we need your help to spread the word. That value comes in two categories. First, there are tangible, individual benefits includ- ing: keeping you informed (e.g., through The Foreign Service Journal , daily media digest, retirement directory, retiree newsletter, benefits videos and webinars, and Next Stage presentations), protecting your financial interests through AFSA’s defense of retirement benefits on Capitol Hill, and having an AFSA retirement counselor available to assist should you have a question about, or problem with, your federal benefits. Second, your continued membership helps your successors who are still “in harm’s way” in the active duty Foreign Service by, for example, supporting AFSA’s efforts to educate Congress, the media and the American people on the importance of funding diplomacy and development. In view of the benefits of continued membership, why do so many newly retired members drop out? In many cases, it is completely inad- vertent. After decades of pay- ing AFSA dues via payroll deduction, they mistakenly assume that dues will be automatically withheld from their Foreign Service pension. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Retiring employees must fill out new paperwork to continue their AFSA mem- bership in retirement. Other new retirees suc- cessfully re-enroll for AFSA membership, but do so by writing a check for one year’s dues. When renewal time comes, they are on a trip, have moved, or only give a cursory glance to their flood of incoming mail. As a result, their reminder letter from AFSA goes unseen, and their membership lapses. AFSA needs your help in reaching these former members. When you chat with fellow Foreign Service retirees, try to find out if they belong to AFSA. For example, you might ask what they think about some recent AFSA media digest item, Foreign Service Journal article or retiree newsletter update. If they say they do not get that information, encourage them to rejoin AFSA. They can do so on the AFSA website at membership. If you attend meetings of one of the 18 Foreign Service retiree associations across the country and you want to proactively encourage your colleagues to join AFSA, we can mail and/or email you handouts explaining the benefits of AFSA member- ship in retirement along with the membership application form. Just email member@ Finally, if your own AFSA membership depends on you writing a check each year, please consider switching from annual billing to paying dues via annuity deduction. Switching will save AFSA money on printing and mail- ing expenses and will ensure that your membership does not inadvertently lapse due to lost or unnoticed mail. When your renewal time comes, you can simply make the switch either online at or by contact- ing . n