Communications 2 from the fantail 3

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FRA Today – January 2015

Communications 2







Operation Refit Update 23


Looking For 25





Connection vs Perfection

The beginning of a new year is typically the time we take stock of our successes, examine how we can do things more effectively going forward and set goals for the upcoming 12 months. All shipmates can be justifiably proud of FRA’s 2014 legislative successes (outlined on page 8) and the capital improvements to our National Headquarters (NHQ) building (see page 26) that were accomplished during the last calendar year. This month’s feature story, as well as the “Membership Matters” column (on page 14), highlight some innovative approaches to promoting the benefits of FRA membership. We hope each shipmate will take ownership of these concepts, set a goal to recruit at least one new shipmate and use the referenced resources to achieve that goal.

My professional resolution for 2015 is slightly different that it’s been in the past. For the past several years as the editor of FRA Today, I’ve striven for an error-free issue. I’ve come close a few times and the errors are usually small ones, but I’ve yet to achieve perfection. I recently discovered the poem below in a 1977 issue of Naval Affairs (the predecessor to FRA Today) that sums up a common barrier to my success.

The Typographical Error

The typographical error is a slippery thing and sly;

You can hunt it ‘til you’re dizzy, but somehow it will get by.

‘Til the forms are off the presses, it is strange how still it keeps.

It shrinks down in a corner and it never stirs or peeps.

That typographical error, too small for human eyes,

‘Til the ink is on the paper, when it grows to mountain size.

The remainder of the issue may be clean as clean can be,

But the typographical error is the only thing you see.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that perfection is not only elusive; it’s a subjective standard and really not all that relevant to the purpose of this magazine. Pursuit of excellence is always admirable, but this year I resolve is to write and edit FRA Today in a way that facilitates and encourages connections — among our shipmates, within our Association and with outside entities who may know nothing about the FRA.

Connecting shipmates with one another is really what this publication — and the FRA as a whole — is all about. As we embark on the New Year, I wish you positive and meaningful connections in all facets of your life.

Happy 2015!
Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at
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FRA Toolbox

This month’s feature highlights the FRA Toolbox. We all have one or two favorite tools that we reach for when we need to make adjustments or repairs in order to keep things operating well. Whether it’s for our cars, computers, homes or work spaces, the right tools give us a boost to keep things moving along. The FRA Toolbox is no exception. The tools outlined on pages 18–25 are designed to help us highlight FRA’s great work and advance its mission, as well as enhance our membership. These tools directly support what I call “the six pillars for FRA’s future success.”

These six pillars are related to increasing and maintaining our membership and raising awareness of the Association, and were developed by FRA staff and leadership.

First: Tell folks who we are and what we do. Invite them to join after they understand our purpose.

Second: Lock the back door. Find out why some of our members are not renewing their memberships and work to address their concerns.

Third: Community involvement. Participate in community activities — as a branch or individual shipmate — and make an effort to publicize that involvement. We need to get out and tell our 90-year story at the local, regional and national levels.

Fourth: Communicate with your elected officials. Our National Headquarters (NHQ) staff works hard to advance FRA’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill, and that work is greatly enhanced when our shipmates also connect with their elected officials and share their views. Our legislative staff works to influence 535 representatives and senators here in Washington, D.C., which we do well. Each shipmate has only three elected representatives — one representative and two senators — who are often more receptive to direct messages from constituents. Together, we can reach them all.

Fifth: Advocate for one another. Many of our members have given much to this Association and their fellow shipmates in the spirit of Loyalty, Protection and Service. Let’s keep that tradition at the forefront when dealing with one another.

Sixth: Mentor a new member. When a new member attends a branch meeting or other function, go out of your way to make him or her feel welcome. Encourage their involvement and respect their ideas. A fresh perspective could spark new ideas for the branch and the FRA as a whole.

We have many tools available at NHQ and we’re always looking for new ways to help shipmates and branches promote and enhance the FRA. In addition to the printed materials highlighted in this month’s feature article, we also have scripts and talking points, and can arrange for speakers to attend your outreach events, too. If you’d like for us to come to you, talk to your Regional Presidents, who in turn will contact the National President and work to reinforce the FRA spirit.

FRA has a long history of strong and effective advocacy on behalf of military personnel and veterans, and that energy and determination continue today. Together with our partners in The Military Coalition (TMC), senior enlisted leaders, Capitol Hill staffers and our contacts within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, we are increasing our reach in promoting the FRA.

We’re working to provide additional copies of FRA Today to a growing audience, and sharing our weekly NewsBytes, our legislative alerts, an online Bill Tracker, and other communications vehicles that showcase our progress as we continue moving forward. We’re also receiving an increasing number of invitations to meet with military and community groups to share our goals and vision for accomplishing them. On many of my recent base visits, commanding officers and senior enlisted leaders are asking for help in providing information to enhance and strengthen their General Military Training (GMT), and FRA’s legislative work is a great adjunct to their curriculum. Shipmates in the field are invited and welcome to use tabletop displays, prepared speeches, PowerPoint/Prezi presentations and other tools in the FRA Toolbox of information and communication resources.

Shipmates, I invite you to use these tools and help develop new ones to strengthen this momentum. FRA membership isn’t just about joining a club; it’s about working to support and advocate for our fellow shipmates — just as it was when the FRA was established. Let’s keep that motion going by engaging with people in the local communities (including military installations and media outlets) and make “the surge.” We can, we are, and it is paying off. PRESS ON!

Tom Snee is FRA’s National Executive Director and can be reached at
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