By Morgan Brown and Jim Lokovic
As we visit chapters and discuss the power of membership, the topic of AFSA’s participation in The Military Coalition (TMC) often comes up. As an individual Association, our current membership strength is over 100,000 members. However the combined membership of the 32 associations that comprise TMC is about 5.5 million. Some have asked, “Since the TMC is powerful due to its collective size, why don’t all of the TMC associations just incorporate into one giant association?”
The reason is that, although the TMC associations come together on issues of common concern, the core missions of the individual TMC associations are not the same. AFSA’s unique, primary focus is on the well-being of current and past Air Force enlisted members of all components (Active duty, Guard, and Reserve), and their family members and survivors. However, other associations focus primarily on commissioned officers, or veterans, or retirees, or members of the Selected Reserve, or military family members, or survivors. The way associations do business and their non-profit status may also vary. For example, several TMC associations are educational associations, while some are actual on-the-Hill lobbying groups, like AFSA. Some, like AFSA, are federally chartered in public law, others are not. You can take a look at the TMC member associations and their individual natures/missions by going to: http://www.themilitarycoalition.org.
While TMC as a whole effectively capitalizes on collective power, the individual associations sometimes see issues differently. A case in point was a recent hearing on the proposals of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC), or more specifically, on recommendations to change the military retirement and healthcare systems. While we have reported to our members about that hearing and our strong position on the MCRMC proposals—and we have let Congress know where we stand--suffice it to say that positions of the handful of associations called to testify before that particular hearing varied. Some said they are ready for TRICARE to go away and for it to be replaced by a system similar to that used by federal civilians. And some associations are ready to try a new, perhaps less certain, blended military retirement system that would provide a benefit for shorter lengths of service and involve market investments.
AFSA is a proud member of The Military Coalition. There are many, many issues of common concern, and the power of TMC’s collective membership comes into influential play in generating Congressional support. The energy and influence of the TMC has made a great difference in the lives of those who have served and those who support them. However, all TMC associations are not the same; each primarily exists to promote the interests of its members—and that’s a good thing.
But also please keep in mind that on those matters that are unique to our members, we need the power to compete in the arena of differing proposals. To succeed, we must continue to grow—to get more members. Therefore, if you want to help make sure that this Association is a “big fish” in the Congressional pond, please do your part by encouraging your friends and colleagues to join us. It can make a real difference when we want our Voice to stand out among the many associations.