This month’s issue of FRA Today highlights a variety of ways in which FRA shipmates help one another. Our feature article is about Retired Services and Retired Activities Offices, agencies that are staffed almost solely by volunteers, the vast majority of whom are military retirees themselves and many are FRA members. This issue also includes coverage of FRA’s involvement in honoring outstanding shipmates who are currently serving (page 12), tributes paid to fallen shipmates on Memorial Day (page 14) and the Association’s efforts to promote Americanism and patriotism among the next generation of service members and shipmates (pages 32–33).
FRA could not exist without the tremendous efforts of our volunteers working to support one another and our Association as a whole. Branch and regional officers work tirelessly to support the Association and their local communities. Committee chairmen and members serve at the branch, regional and national levels to make our organization stronger. Many FRA members also volunteer at veterans’ hospitals and clinics as part of the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS) program. And branches, as well as individual shipmates, spearhead food and toy drives, support USO events and serve in an assortment of volunteer capacities with other veteran organizations and charitable groups in their respective home towns. In addition to their primary responsibilities, NHQ staff members also volunteer significant time and effort in support of The Military Coalition, the FRA Education Foundation, and important outreach initiatives (including Rolling Thunder on Memorial Day weekend; see page 14) in the Washington D.C., area.
Volunteering not only supports those who need assistance, helping others is an opportunity to give back — to the Association, your community and your fellow shipmates and citizens. Volunteering also provide tremendous opportunities for learning new skills and meeting new people, and sets a tremendous example for those who follow in your footsteps, too.
By FRA National President Mark Kilgore This month begins the new Association Year for 2013–2014 at the local branch level. Elections and branch installations are complete and the Annual Reports of Branch Officers have been submitted to both the Regional President and FRA National Headquarters. For those of you who are new to branch office, your predecessors and the FRA website (www.fra.org) are valuable resources to assist you in carrying out your new responsibilities and duties. If you are unable to find what you are looking for on the website’s drop-down menus, try using the search function. It is simple and quick to use, plus it can save you both time and frustration. Our website is also a great way to communicate with your elected officials in Washington. Each communication received is considered to represent another 25 people that did not bother to communicate with their representative or senator. It does, and you can, make a difference.
Also your Branch Committee Reports should be in the hands of your Regional Committee Chairpersons for judging at the regional conventions being held this month and next. Hopefully, you have included all the programs your branch conducted this past year, both those that were successful and those that could be improved for the future, so that your fellow shipmates and branches may learn from your endeavors. In my travels over the past several years, I have heard of very successful projects resulting in great local public relations; however, for some reason, they never seem to get written up in the annual Branch Committee Reports. These reports provide helpful information and can serve as guides for others to maximize personnel and financial resources, especially during these austere times. Remember, good public relations efforts are excellent recruiting opportunities!
Next month you will be receiving a packet from National Headquarters containing the resolutions to be considered at FRA’s 86th National Convention in October. During our gathering in Chattanooga, Tenn., shipmates will discuss and vote on resolutions concerning changes to our Constitution and Bylaws (C&BL), our Standing Rules and Rituals, as well as nominations for Honorary Membership and Certificates of Merit. The nominating resolutions for National President and National Vice President (for Association Year 2013–2014) and for National Executive Director (NED, for Association Years 2013–2016) have been previously disseminated to the branches as they were received, in accordance with our FRA C&BL.
As I mentioned in March of this year, there is a resolution to change the NED position from its current elected status to a hired appointment. If that resolution is adopted by the delegates at National Convention, all NED candidates will be interviewed by the National Board of Directors. To ensure all candidates are considered, regardless of the position’s status, all NED candidates must submit their resumes to National Headquarters (Attention: National President) no later than September 1, 2013.
Please keep our constitution’s preamble in mind over the coming months. In light of Super Storm Sandy in the Northeast earlier this year; the two horrific tornadoes that hit in close proximity to Oklahoma City, Okla., in May; and, now that we are in hurricane season in the Southeast, it’s important that we remember “Our Devotionto our shipmates in good fortune or distress.” I have been both amazed and extremely proud of the way our shipmates have responded to the natural disasters in their areas and their immediate efforts to seek out and assist their fellow shipmates.
In closing, I’d also like to mention and thank the FRA National Headquarters staff for their rapid response in a myriad of ways to assist our shipmates helping shipmates. Go, Team FRA! Mark Kilgore is FRA’s National President and a member of Branch 22 In Pensacola, Fla. Return to Table of Contents
Degrees for Sailors
Robert E. Lowell’s letter in the May 2013 FRA Today on CPO leadership qualities and the emerging importance of college degrees for CPO advancement is spot on. His two clearly defined “most important factors in determining a Chief’s worth” (how well he/she accomplishes the mission to which assigned, and how well he/she takes care of his/her personnel) are as a succinct a statement as I’ve seen on this and, from my point of view, covers all that is important.
I never have seen the value of a BA degree to a CPO and the few who earned a BS either got out to use their degree [in the civilian workplace] or applied for an officer program — thus adding no value to the CPO community. The Navy Senior Enlisted Academy seems a lot more practical and I suspect a lot more focused on directly supporting the Navy’s CPO community requirements, rather than purely personal academic development.
Being an academic success is not necessarily an indicator of practical success. And aren’t all successful CPOs practical people who get things done and take care of their troops?
Thomas E Clark I take exception to comments made by MCPO Dayle I. Fish, who seems to imply that those of us who do not have some sort of secondary scholastic credentials may be amateurs —not possessing the traits, desires and intelligence to succeed and attain a leadership position.
I totally agree with the comments by CPO Robert E. Lowell, which are more in line with what our goals and values should be. I remember a brother and an uncle returning after being discharged from naval service [following WWII], and from those memories my only goal was to be a Sailor. The day I turned 17, I quit high school and 11 days later I arrived at Recruit Training at Great Lakes. During my 22-year career as a Boiler Technician, I had no desire to go to college or any of the schools that taught “How to be a CPO.” By the time I had taken the exam for CPO, I had already learned how to be a CPO from my predecessors — both good and not-so-good. I am glad I did not have to be distracted from my job by something I did not desire or need to be a success in my chosen profession. What a waste of time and money it would have been for me and my Navy.
During my career I was urged to apply for various programs that would lead me to the wardroom. I declined. I just wanted to be a Sailor. I was just where I wanted to be — a member of the CPO Mess, taking care of my hole snipes and ship, offering guidance and advice as needed or requested to those who chose the wardroom as a career path.
As a dedicated and loyal, first-on and last-off, black oil, hole snipe I have come to believe that I really do prefer “the hum of machinery to the whine of people.”
F. M. Carroll
Retired Activities Offices
I have just heard the number of Retired Activity Offices (RAO) is diminishing. That’s bad news, because I know of some of the work the San Diego RAO does. My friend was dying and I suggested he and his wife go to local RAO and find out what she should do at his demise. The volunteers there outlined everything she needed to do and things went smoothly for her and her family after her husband’s death.
When another friend’s husband died suddenly, she didn’t know anything about who to contact. She didn’t even know where she and husband were banking! The same people at RAO San Diego found out what bank, and in process found Insurance policies in the safe deposit box for $100,000. She was kindly guided by those nice people in all the other matters and is very happy there is an RAO!
Shipmates, we ought to help with the RAO’s if we can. RAO volunteers bring members of the retired community up to date on matters that are constantly changing in Washington and answer their questions. These volunteers work hard every day to help the area’s retirees and never collect one cent for their work!
Harvey C. Swinford
FRA Response: Well stated, Shipmate Swinford! Your comments reinforce the message of this month’s feature story which begins on page 18.
Submissions: Send Shipmate Forum letters to: Editor, FRA Today, 125 N. West St. Alexandria, VA 22314. E-mail submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Shipmate Forum” in the subject line. FRA reserves the right to select and edit letters for publication. Letters published in Shipmate Forum reflect the opinions and views of FRA members. They do not necessarily reflect the official position of FRA as a whole. FRA is not responsible for the accuracy of letter content. Return to Table of Contents On & OFF Capitol HILL