Watch a video of sights and sounds from MOAA's Annual Meeting in San Antonio.
Read a synopsis of each event below.
Career Fair, Seminars, and Expo
Community Heroes Appreciation Night
Congressional Appreciation Breakfast
MOAA Annual Meeting
Levels of Excellence Awards
October 29, 2011 - Levels of Excellence Awards
From left, MOAA’s Chairman of the Board Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., presents a five-star Levels of Excellence Award streamer to Lt. Col. Rene Dreiling, USAF-Ret., president of the Heartland of America (Neb.) Chapter. Four- and five-star Levels of Excellence Award streamers were presented to leaders of the association’s best chapters at MOAA’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Kris Ann Hegle)
MOAA welcomed council and chapter leaders, MOAA staff, and members of MOAA's board of directors to the 2010 Levels of Excellence Award dinner, held Saturday, Oct. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel.
Capt. Bill Knehans, USN-Ret., MOAA board member and chair of the Council and Chapter Affairs Committee, welcomed attendees on behalf of MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret.
Cmdr. Glenn I. Miller, USN-Ret., CHC, MOAA national chaplain, led an invocation before the members of the John Marshall High School Naval Junior ROTC unit presented the colors. After the Band of the West played a service medley and Master Sgt. Nancy Poffenbarger, USAF, sang the National Anthem, dinner was served.
Following dinner, Col. Lee Lange II, USMC-Ret., recognized the Alamo Chapter's 50th anniversary.
Knehans introduced Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., chair of MOAA's board of directors and the event's keynote speaker.
"MOAA is making a significant impact all over the country," Abbot said, "and it's thanks to you and your contributions. I think that we're respected for serving others, for servant leadership, in many areas, including advocacy for our currently serving and veterans in our communities. So tonight, it's about thanking you ... for keeping that bar up high and having excellence as a goal."
Abbot then presented Roslyn Bates, Cape Canaveral (Fla.) Chapter auxiliary liaison, with the Auxiliary Member of the Year Award. The Top-Recruiting Chapter of the Year Award and a check for $1,000 went to the members of the Fort Rucker (Ala.) Chapter, whose membership chair, Maj. Charles D. Miller, USAR-Ret., received the Chapter Recruiter of the Year Award.
The event wrapped up with the presentation of four- and five-start streamers to the winners of the 2010 Levels of Excellence Award contest. The Levels of Excellence Award recognizes the best chapters in MOAA's chapter system. Each year, chapters may submit an application for review against a set of rating criteria. The very best chapters receive five-star awards; excellent chapters receive four-star awards. View the full list of winners at www.moaa.org/levelsofexcellence.
October 29, 2011 - Chapter Roundtable
Col. Fred Black, USA-Ret., president of the North Carolina Council of Chapters, asks a question during the Council and Chapter Roundtable discussion during MOAA’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Kris Ann Hegle)
Council and chapter leaders gathered for a roundtable discussion Saturday, Oct. 29, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel.
Col. Lee Lange II, USMC-Ret., director of MOAA Council and Chapter Affairs, welcomed attendees and began the event with an update on upcoming and ongoing association and chapter initiatives.
Lange highlighted chapter involvement in Community Blueprint, a pilot program with White House interest and MOAA chapter support to bring communities together in their efforts to assist local servicemembers and veterans and their families.
Lange introduced Lt. Col. Alton "Buddy" Johnson Jr., USAF-Ret., of the South Georgia Chapter, one of three MOAA chapters involved in this pilot program, to let attendees know why their chapter wanted to be a part of this initiative.
Returning servicemembers, says Johnson, separate when they come back home and "are alone, they're unemployed, they're uninsured, and quite frankly, they're afraid, and rightfully so. A sense of connection in community is important for all of us, especially for our warriors and their families. They need to know they're not alone, and [that's the goal of] Community Blueprint."
Lange updated attendees on MOAA's current operations and major future initiatives. He also gave an update on Voices for America's Troops, a subsidiary of MOAA and a 501(c)(4) organization that allows its members (who are ineligible for membership in MOAA) to advocate for a strong national defense. The recently begun subsidiary now has online join capability at www.voicesfortroops.org, a monthly newsletter called Homefront Connections that is geared toward Voices members' interests, alerts for members to take legislative action to support the military community, and access to limited services and products MOAA provides its members.
Lange opened the floor for discussion, during which members talked about using national MOAA radio ads and other advocacy campaign (www.moaa.org/yourvoice) materials, how to become more relevant to younger officers, and a pilot program through which MOAA will include information in new-member packets letting them know the importance of becoming chapter members and how to contact their local chapter.
October 29, 2011 - Chairman's Luncheon
Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army North (5th Army), addresses MOAA members, spouses, and guests at the chairman's luncheon. (Photo by Warren Lacy)
MOAA members gathered Saturday, Oct. 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel for a chairman's luncheon, during which Lt. Gen. Guy Swan III, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army North (5th Army), spoke about the importance of maintaining a high-quality force, sustaining family program, helping wounded warriors, and balancing between equipment and military people.
"[We must] preserve a high-quality volunteer force — active duty, Guard, and Reserve — and the readiness of that force must be nonnegotiable," said Swan. "Whatever we do, the Army must always remain the best-trained, best-led, and best-equipped force in the world. And that can only be accomplished by the hard work and sacrifice of those who are in uniform in partnership with the American people to provide the resources to make this task possible. MOAA is a key ingredient in that partnership."
Even though the U.S. will be pulling out of Iraq by the year's end and will begin to draw down troops in Afghanistan, Swan believes the country is "now, sadly but realistically, in an era of persistent conflict."
But, he says to sustain a quality force in an era of conflict, "things like benefits, things like medical care, things like educational benefits for servicemembers and their families do make a difference in maintaining the high-quality force. ... It truly is the second greatest generation that our nation has dealt with in the last 200 years, and it's absolutely amazing what these folks do."
October 29, 2011 - MOAA Annual Meeting
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., chair of MOAA's board of directors (at podium), convenes the Annual Meeting of the Membership. Seated at the table (left to right) are MOAA officers Col. Jim O'Brien, USAF-Ret., Chief Financial Officer; Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret., President; Maj. Gen. Joe Lynch, USAF-Ret., General Counsel; and Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret., Director, Government Relations. (Photo by Warren Lacy)
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., chair of MOAA's board of directors, welcomed members and their spouses, association staff, and distinguished guests at the association's 2011 Annual Meeting of the Membership Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel.
Abbot examined the country's struggles in the past year, including a near government shutdown in April and the Congress' failure to deal with the debt ceiling issue in August.
"These circumstances mean MOAA and its mission will be even more important in the months ahead," Abbot said. "For those of us who serve in MOAA ... we need to redouble our effort to carry our message that service to country is unlike any other job in the country. And the benefits that those individuals earned, they earned a long time ago. We need to continuously remind the leadership that it doesn't work to change the equation to fix a structural problem that has been self-induced."
MOAA President Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret., followed with his report of MOAA's challenges and successes over the past year. Ryan highlighted the importance of keeping in mind MOAA's vision, including advocating for a strong national defense. To do that, MOAA needs the powerful voice on the Hill of its nearly 377,000 members.
MOAA is striving to grow its numbers of paid members and is emphasizing the need for those with regular memberships to convert to Life Members. Currently, 54 percent of association members are Life Members.
"We've always had, outside of the currently serving military, the best-led organization in the country at the chapter level and at the council level," Ryan said. "We come to our annual meeting, and we recognize all of our four-star [chapters] and five-star [chapters], and it really is a shot in the arm to [national MOAA] to see the inspiring leadership out there."
Later, Ryan emphasized MOAA is positioned to ride out the economic cycle by controlling expenses, expanding a revenue base, and forming strong partnerships, like those with Pentagon Federal Credit Union, USAA, and Marsh.
"Nobody has a better team than we do," Ryan concluded. "And nobody has a more important mission than we do."
October 29, 2011 - Congressional Appreciation Breakfast
Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) speaks to MOAA members and guests at the congressional breakfast. (Photo by Warren Lacy)
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., chair of MOAA's board of directors, hosted on Saturday, Oct. 29, a congressional breakfast with members of the Texas delegation, held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk Hotel.
"As part of [MOAA's] annual meeting, we take the time to show our appreciation of the congressional delegation of this great state [of Texas] and for the support that they give our men and women in uniform." Abbot said.
After an invocation by Cmdr. Glenn I. Miller, USN-Ret., CHC, MOAA national chaplain, and breakfast, Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret., MOAA president, introduced the congressional leaders in attendance.
Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) said, "You really are talking about the national security of this country. First and foremost, we can argue about everything else as democrats and republicans, but our national security, that's where we really need to be coming together to identify those particular priorities because that's not something that is negotiable."
Next up, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) credited the military's effort in protecting the country, saying, "America must have a military second-to-none. ... You do not have a military second-to-none unless you have military personnel second-to-none."
"You made a choice to follow a path to become a leader in protecting our freedom," Doggett continued. "But we know that others will not be as likely to follow that path if the promises and pledges that were made to you when you began your careers and throughout your careers are not kept. And that's why the [legislative] agenda MOAA has laid out is so very important for [Congress] to follow through on."
Closing out the breakfast, Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco (R-Texas) addressed the budget crisis. "Protecting our nation is a constitutional responsibility," said Canseco. "While I'm a staunch fiscal conservative and working hard to cut spending to get our nation back on a sustainable fiscal path, I believe we must spend every penny needed to ensure we have the best, the strongest military in the world."
October 28, 2011 - MOAA Hosts Its First Community Heroes Appreciation Night
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret. (right), chair of MOAA's board of directors, presents a community caregiver award to Hector Villarreal. Also honoring caregivers are (in the background, left to right) Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret., MOAA president, and Larry Burchfield, senior executive, South Region, Humana Military Healthcare. Humana was a 4-star sponsor of the Community Heroes Appreciation Awards. (Photo by Thaisi Da Silva)
During its first Community Heroes Appreciation Night, MOAA recognized caregivers from the San Antonio area during a night out at Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch, Texas, Friday, Oct. 28, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. MOAA's first such event honoring military caregivers was sponsored by Humana Military Healthcare, represented by Larry Burchfield, senior executive, South Region, Humana Military Healthcare.
After Chuck Knibbe welcomed guests to the ranch, attendees were entertained by the Jody Jenkins Band, watched armadillo races, and received a chance to take a photo with a Longhorn steer during the event's buffet dinner.
Master of Ceremonies Capt. Bud Schneeweis, USCG-Ret., director, MOAA Benefits Information and Financial Education kicked off the caregiver recognition portion of the event.
Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret., MOAA president, introduced special guests before being joined by Adm. Steve Abbot, USN-Ret., chair of MOAA's board of directors, to present the Community Heroes Award to eight recipients, an individual and a group recipient in each of four award categories.
"This [event] is a first. This is the first time that MOAA has recognized those who are providing services and care for our warriors and our veterans," Abbot said. "This is a milestone night."
Judith Markelz received the individual award in the Military Caregiver category, while the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, therapy team took the group award in that category.
Sean Hanna received the individual award in the Civilian Caregiver category, and Alzafar Shriners received the the category's group award.
Scott Jenrette was recognized with the individual award in the Community Caregiver (on post) category, while the Fisher House volunteers of the Brooke Army Medical Center received the group award in that category.
For the Community Caregiver (off post) category, Hector Villarreal received the individual award, and Project MEND received the group award.
The MOAA Community Heroes Appreciation Award originates in the spirit of, and with an alignment to, the president and first lady’s efforts to organize public-private outreach efforts in support of servicemembers, veterans, and wounded warriors and their families. The effort aligns with MOAA’s involvement with a coalition of organizations that have designed a blueprint for these community partnerships. The award recognizes both individuals and groups within military and civilian communities who exemplify service to the wounded military and veterans’ populations.
To read about each of the award recipients and learn more about the Community Heroes Award, visit www.moaa.org/hero.
October 27, 2011 - Career Fair, Seminars, and Expo
Job seekers discuss career options with exhibiting employers. (Photo by Thaisi Da Silva)
Capt. Bud Schneeweis, USCG-Ret., briefs job seekers on "Six Steps to a Successful Financial Transition" at the Career Fair in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Thaisi Da Silva)
About 300 people attended MOAA's latest career fair Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. Attendees had the opportunity to meet with 32 employers, including Amazon, Army and Air Force Exchange Services, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Hess Corp., Macy's, Microsoft, USAA, and more.
MOAA also held three pre-career fair workshops to assist transitioning servicemembers. Before the fair, USAA presented "Six Steps to a Successful Financial Transition," MOAA Benefits Information and Financial Education (BIFE) presented "Evaluating Employer Benefits," and the Office of Personnel Management presented "Navigating the Federal Employment System." Another workshop, "5 Secrets to Maximize Your Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefit," presented by MOAA BIFE, was held following the career fair.
Attendees also picked up some freebies and information and entered raffles from exhibitors, including USAA, Humana Military Healthcare Services, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Target Marketing Group, and more.