MOAA’s 2012 annual meeting, “A Capital Event,” took place Monday and Tuesday Oct. 29-30. This year’s gathering was disrupted by inclement weather associated with Hurricane Sandy. However, attendees hunkered down at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., and many events were able to proceed as planned.
Levels of Excellence Award Dinner
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN (Ret), left, chair of MOAA’s board of directors, presents a Level of Excellence Award to former Lt. Richard Newman, right, of the Green Valley (Ariz.) MOAA Chapter, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Photo by Kris Ann Hegle.
MOAA welcomed council and chapter leaders and their spouses, MOAA staff, and members of MOAA’s board of directors to the 2012 Levels of Excellence Award dinner Monday evening.
Following a reception, MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), welcomed attendees. Capt. Bill Knehans, USN (Ret), a member of MOAA’s board of directors and chair of the board’s Council and Chapter Affairs Committee, introduced keynote speaker Adm. Steve Abbot, USN (Ret), chair of the board of directors.
Abbot recognized Edie D. Reiken, who was unable to attend the meeting due to Hurricane Sandy, as the Auxiliary Member of the Year. Edie is a member of the Portland (Ore.) Chapter and Oregon Council of Chapters. The Southside Virginia Chapter was recognized as the Top-Recruiting Chapter of the Year, and Southside Virginia Chapter members Maj. Frederick J. Eley, USA (Ret), and Col. Clinton A. Hodder, USA (Ret), were named Chapter Co-Recruiters of the Year. The chapter recruiting team successfully recruited more than 1,400 new members.
The event concluded with presentation of 65 four- and five-star streamers to winners of MOAA’s 2011 Levels of Excellence Award contest.
“Despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which prevented a number of our award winners from traveling, we had a great Levels of Excellence Award Dinner and streamer presentation,” says Col. Lee Lange, USMC (Ret), director of MOAA’s Council and Chapter Affairs Department.
Meeting of the Membership
MOAA President Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), addresses members at the Meeting of the Membership Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Photo by Steve Barrett.
Although several Tuesday events – including the career fair and associated seminars, military spouse mentoring sessions, and informational workshops — were canceled due to the hurricane, MOAA’s annual meeting of the membership proceeded as planned.
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN (Ret), chair of MOAA’s board of directors, and Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., USN (Ret), MOAA president, discussed the association’s successes and the challenges that lie ahead.
“Our voice has been successful because it’s been persistent and action-based,” Abbot said. “That effort is going to need to be sustained in the coming years.”
Abbot recognized the efforts of the association’s leadership and staff. “We have the most capable staff of any nonprofit advocacy organization in this town,” Abbot said. “Our leadership have been recognized as the best there is in Washington. I think that’s a pretty remarkable circumstance.
Ryan agreed. “Our team is what we are most proud of,” he said said. “This is the team that knows we must continue to adapt and relentlessly get better.”
Ryan discussed goals MOAA has set for itself, including continuing to be financially efficient. “There is one group in Washington that can control its funding. … Maybe we can set the pace for Congress.”
He also addressed the legislative obstacles the association faces: “We’re going to have our hands full [next year],” he said. “We’re going to ask members of Congress to make sure that if there are more cuts to defense … they are doing it in a balanced way. It’s a great challenge, but MOAA has always been known for being proactive.”
Ryan commended MOAA chapter leaders for their grassroots efforts. “You get us the access [on Capitol Hill]. You’ll be coming in in April [for Storming the Hill] to help us get the message across. … Because we have many voices saying one message, we think we’re very close ... on these critical issues.”
Ryan discussed the association’s efforts to refocus the value of membership and assist councils and chapters, “the engines that make our team go.” He identified chapter membership as the association’s biggest challenge, noting MOAA has added 30 chapters and lost 41 this year. “Our goal is to have at least 435-plus chapters, one in every district. We’re going to work hard to make the new membership model synergistic to grow our chapters.”
Ryan highlighted chapter involvement in the Community Blueprint Program, which works to help servicemembers and their families assimilate back into their communities. Six chapters currently are involved in the program.
“We’re making a real difference,” Ryan said. “It is so much of an honor for all of us to work for all of you. I’m confident with this type of leadership, we’ll continue to be impactful. Together there is no better team.” Community Heroes Awards Night
Adm. Steve Abbot, USN (Ret), left, chair of MOAA’s board of directors, and Mr. Fred Hannett, CHAN Executive Sponsor from United Healthcare, far right, present representatives from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center physical therapy team with a 2012 MOAA Community Heroes Award Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Photo by Steve Barrett.
With the clearing weather, most special guests were able to attend the MOAA 2012 Community Heroes Awards Night gala Oct. 30.
In welcoming everyone to the event, Abbot said he was delighted the gala could be held as planned.
“This is our annual celebration of those who are true community heroes because they are taking care of our wounded and injured,” he said, noting the importance of the evening.
Keynote speaker James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr., USN, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invoked the storm as he said, “Tonight, literally come hell or high water, you stand with those who have stood with us for decades, and your support is recognized.”
Winnefeld presented his plan for not only ensuring wounded warriors get the care they need in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics but also making sure they — and all returning veterans — are successfully reintegrated into civilian life. He said key to veterans’ success is that Americans hire these hard workers, prevent and reverse the trend of veteran homelessness, and continue to care for the wounds of war.
“Yet even with all the outstanding work of these caregivers, our work is never complete,” he said. “We need to take care of [veterans] and their seen and unseen wounds for decades to come.” He noted this support and advocacy is where MOAA chapters nationwide especially are of service.
At the gala, MOAA announced a new senior grant of $6,000 in Admiral Winnefeld's name would be given by the MOAA Scholarship Fund to a rising senior for the next three years.
Ryan presented the night’s awards to six groups and three individuals who are dedicated to helping wounded warriors:
• Group award, military — the 779th Aeromedical Staging Facility.
• Group award, military/civilian — Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Physical Therapy Amputee Section.
• Group award, military/civilian — Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Orthotics and Prosthetics Department.
• Group award, military/civilian — Team Red, White & Blue DMV Chapter.
• Group award, civilian — Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles Program staff.
• Group award, civilian — Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Combat Casualty Assistance Nurses.
• Individual award, civilian — Merri Beth Cully, lead physician assistant for the Orthopedic Surgery Service.
• Individual award, civilian — Edward and Elsie Smolarsky, Red Cross volunteers, 779th Aeromedical Staging Facility.
The night’s sponsors were (in order of support) United Healthcare; USAA; United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and HVAC Service Techs; MetLife; and International SOS.