December at FRA is always sort of a contradiction for me, including both beginnings and endings. December is the end of the calendar year, of course, and also the end of FRA’s budget year, which means closing out books, creating end-of-year reports and analyzing all that’s gone on in the previous 12 months. It also means preparing for the new calendar year, creating new editorial and production schedules for FRA Today, renewing contracts with our affinity partners and all manner of new beginnings for our National Headquarters (NHQ) team. And of course, FRA is beginning its 91st year of Loyalty, Protection and Service.
Additionally, FRA’s Association year begins at the conclusion of our national convention, so December also marks the start of our new officers’ terms (see page 28) and the beginning of our work to advance the coming year’s legislative agenda (see page 12) on Capitol Hill.
We’re also very excited to note another auspicious beginning and end: The capital improvements to our NHQ facility are complete, marking the end of dust and construction noise, and the grand opening of our newly renovated office space. As this issue of FRA Today goes to print, NHQ staff members are preparing to reoccupy the first and second floors of the building and we’re also making plans for a rededication ceremony to show off the Association’s updated asset. We’ll be sure to include photos in next month’s edition.
Whether you see this time of year as a beginning or an end, here’s wishing you a safe and joyous 2015!
FRA Life Memberships Make Excellent Holiday Gifts!
FRA Life Membership is a lasting tribute to your favorite shipmate’s military service and dedication to the principles of Loyalty, Protection and Service.
Life Membership offers substantial savings when compared to the cost of renewing each year and is a great way to secure a lifetime of FRA affiliation at today’s rates. Life Members receive a special ID card and ensure their surviving spouses continue to receive FRA Today at no charge. As an added bonus, new Life Members are recognized quarterly in FRA Today.
Current members can convert to a Life Membership online at www.fra.org at time of renewal and new members can join as Life Members at any time.
To learn more, contact Penny Collins, director of Membership Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-FRA-1924, ext. 123. Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at email@example.com. Return to Table of Contents
FROM THE BRIDGE
Aloha, shipmates! I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be elected as your National President for the Association Year 2014–2015. I will, indeed, endeavor to do my very best to live up to your expectations. We have a lot of challenges facing us that we must address, not the least of which is membership.
As you may know, the grand opening for our new and improved National Headquarters (NHQ) was held on November 15th — on time and on budget. The new layout is a great improvement to NHQ 1.0, especially from a visitor’s perspective. As you walk in the front door, you are immediately greeted by an open reception area. To your left will be the museum, and to the right is the conference room. Most of the staff office spaces are located on the second floor, which frees up the third floor for lease to an outside entity, thus providing an additional revenue source. So if you are ever in the area, stop by and check out your National Headquarters. I’m sure you will be greatly impressed by our new facility; one that we all can be very proud of.
Delegates at our recent National Convention approved FRA’s 2015 legislative agenda, which is available on our website; go to www.fra.org and select the Advocacy tab. From there you can find a plethora of concerns that we are working to address. The “FRA Agenda” tab addresses Expanding Health Care Issues, Protecting Personnel Programs, Veterans’ Issues, Safeguarding Retiree Benefits and other key issues. There is also the “Action Center,” where you can contact your congressional delegation directly and express your concerns to them. This grassroots advocacy is the most impactful way we have of convincing our legislators to do what is right.
The most important concern we all have is our declining membership. If we don’t come to grips and change this trend, then most of what I talked about above is akin to the rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic. Of particular concern to me is when sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen tell me that they have never heard of the Fleet Reserve Association. We MUST change this. I want a renewed public relations effort to get our name and our mission out into the community. I challenge every branch to submit articles/ads to your local media. Contact local TV and radio stations whenever you have or participate in an event such as picnics, parades, or Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard birthday celebrations. The list is endless, so let’s get it out there and share our good work with our communities. I have found that they WANT to hear from you.
When you get new members to come to a meeting, engage them. Let them know that they are appreciated. Get them involved.
Then there is retention. I was once told by PNP Jerry Sweeney that if we could stop just one half of those going out the back door, we would be in good shape. I don’t want us to be in good shape, I want us to be in GREAT shape. I want the hemorrhaging to STOP! I want us to thrive! Communicate with your fellow shipmates regularly and let them know they are an integral part of your branch and the Association as a whole. Acknowledge their birthdays, anniversaries, send them copies of your minutes. Use the Calls Program, or at least develop one of your own and create a phone tree. I have found the most efficient way of communicating with my branch members is electronically. It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s fast.
Last, I am constantly amazed at the dedication and commitment of our staff. So remember this; just because you may be right, doesn’t give you the right to be rude. I want you to treat our staff as you would want to be treated. They deserve your aloha.
John D. Ippert was elected to serve as FRA’s national president during the 2014–2015 Association year. He is a member of Honolulu Branch 46 and can be reached at 808-623-3521 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Return to Table of Contents