Fellow members and patriots, it has been over a month since our conference in Washington DC. Your staff has been busy working on issues to improve our benefits, develop membership recruiting drives and incentives for members and chapters to assist in growing our great association and to develop programs that will enhance our position within the Veteran Service organization community.
I have spoken with local representatives of a number of organizations and I sense a disconnect with many organizations between their “on the ground” membership and the national leadership. NCOA does not have a huge organization of personnel and facilities that must be financially supported by the membership. We have a paid staff of 4. The Board of Directors are all volunteers and as such, things may take a little longer to get done than if someone was sitting in an office collecting a paycheck and being paid to make things happen. Don’t get me wrong, every other veteran service organization has dedicated volunteers that do great things every day.
When I was elevated to the position of Chairman of the Board, I fully accepted the responsibility of being a part of serving each and every one of your needs. It is my pledge to you to listen to your concerns about areas that need improvement as well as ideas how we can make NCOA the leading voice for all enlisted members of our armed forces, past present and future. If you are an enlisted member of our active duty, reserve component, separated or retired from any of the five branches of the military, we are your voice. Just about every other veteran service organization in existence has some sort of eligibility filter in place that you must fit into in order to join and participate. We don’t! We accept all enlisted members and even have a category for officers that understand the value of enlisted personnel that defend this country. So I suppose that you can say we really are the voice of our military.
The next thing that I want to address is that we have done a poor job of communicating with our membership ever since we quit mailing out monthly magazines. A recent effort to communicate brought back responses like, ”oh, are you still in existence?” . Many of our members are members at large and when I was doing a project to try and clean up our database, I contacted members all over the country and found that there were a lot out there that would be willing to contribute time and energy to help NCOA climb back to the top. NCOA and I need your help! The Board of Directors at our last meeting decided that we need to do something about re-connecting with many of these members at large. Chapters are authorized to contact headquarters and request a roster of all NCOA members that reside within a reasonable distance from your chapter. You can then request that members at large be assigned to your chapter. If there are multiple chapters in a state, work together with those chapters to coordinate efforts. That will potentially be a good boost to your chapter’s membership. With that membership comes a responsibility. I realize that some members at large may not want to be affiliated with anyone, but there may be a good percentage of those members that could and would be willing to help your chapters. It is worth the effort to try and identify those who would like to help. If a member doesn’t want to participate with NCOA any longer, they can always go onto member planet and opt out, but that is their choice and not for you to worry about.
In order for this plan to work, chapters must communicate with their members. Create a Facebook page or a webpage for your chapter and encourage all of your member to connect with these media. Try to create a mail group for your members using email. My chapter has a local group and a remote group so I don’t send information to the remote group that pertains to a local event that these remote members wouldn’t attend, but you can keep your membership informed about new programs, legislative news etc. without bothering them with information that they wouldn’t be interested in. The bottom line is that we need to communicate better. It will take time and effort but those investments will pay dividends for your chapter and NCOA.
I will be communicating with you all regularly because it is important for you to know what is going on and it is equally important for you to have a communication channel with your leadership so that we can continue to improve our organization and move forward. No idea is a bad idea and even if an idea didn’t work at some point in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t work now. Please let me help you make this NCOA the true voice of our enlisted forces!
Strength in Unity and Leadership By Example;
Terry M. Haines
Chairman, Board of Directors
“NCOA is the Vanguard of all Veterans… Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow!”