Some of you may be thinking to yourself, who is this guy that keeps writing these articles. As the brand new Chairman of the Board, I feel it is one of my most sacred and important duties. For years, NCOA pretty much disappeared from your view. You may be able to find your member card and it may be filed away in a drawer or lock box. Only about 20% of our membership is assigned to a chapter and even many of those groups are not close enough to the center of activity of the chapter that they are assigned to.
Most of our membership is a life member and no longer in an active or drilling status. The NCOA that you joined, in some cases many decades ago, has changed just like the world around us. I am actively involved with a chapter so I am familiar with many of the issues that chapters deal with on a daily basis. Most of you are not actively involved at the chapter level. You may be active in a VFW or American Legion post or a DAV chapter and that is where you invest your time. I myself am a member of at least five organizations as are many of you. All veteran service organizations have done some remarkable things for our troops, veterans and their communities and I hope that they continue to help their brothers and sisters that have served.
Here is why I am writing this article today. Times are changing and if we don’t make some changes to how we do business, nothing accomplished by any organization will last beyond the memory of the last surviving member. Our Legacy will disappear when we do. I have spoken to representatives of several organizations and many feel that there is a disconnect between what goes on in their community and the leadership of their national organization. Most feel that leadership at the top end realizes that we all need to bring youth into our organizations but they appear to be going about it in the wrong way. They are trying to get the youth to fit into their system rather than modifying their system to entice younger members. That is kind of along the fit a square peg into a round hole. It may work occasionally when the square peg is smaller than the hole, but it rarely leads to success.
NCOA is reviewing all of our By-Laws, chapter by-laws etc. to see if we can put some operational flexibility in place for our chapters as well as motivate members who want to make a difference. Do we need to meet as often? Do we need to come together in a building or can we take advantage of the technology available to use phone, I-pads, SKYPE and other options to conduct meetings.
The military op-tempo since 9/11 has been hard on our troops and their families. Many of our Reserve component forces almost feel like full-time active duty because of the number of times that they have been deployed. Today’s needs are different than they were prior to 9/11. We must change. This month alone we have added some new benefits that begin to address our changing environment. ACP came on board and will offer professional mentorship programs with fortune 500 companies for our members. We are close to finalizing an agreement with Give an Hour that will offer free confidential mental health counselling for our members. These exciting additions to our benefits as of this writing are not offered by most of the other veteran service organizations.
Times are changing and it is always better to be on the crest of change than in the trough behind it. I want to hear from you. You have ideas and right now, we need to hear them. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put NCOA input in the subject line. Failure is not an option and we will continue to move forward.
Strength in Unity & Leadership By Example;
Terry M Haines
Chairman, NCOA Board of Directors