Recent news from The MOAA Newsletter. View previous editions of Council and Chapter News here.
National Council and Chapter Leadership Changes
MOAA says farewell to Col. Terri Coles, USA (Ret), senior director, Council and Chapter Affairs
After leading national MOAA’s Council and Chapter Affairs team for more than four years, Col. Terri Coles, USA (Ret), is departing the association.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such dedicated and committed council and chapter members,” Coles said. “I greatly appreciate the support you provided to me and the entire Council and Chapter Affairs team. We’ve made tremendous progress over the past few years. All the best to all of you!”
Stepping into the senior director role is Capt. Erin E. Stone, JAGC, USN (Ret), who has served as the program director since 2019.
“I have benefited from Terri’s vision, passion, and collaborative style for almost two years now and am proud of what we have accomplished as a team under her leadership,” said Stone. “She developed and strengthened programs and relationships that helped national MOAA, our affiliates, and our members. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue working with our selfless volunteer leaders to guide the evolution of this important mission into the future.”
The team also has welcomed Capt. Frank Michael, USN (Ret), as program director. During his 30-year Navy career, he flew SH-60Bs, commanded Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 47, and served as commanding officer of USS Boxer (LHD-4). Since transitioning from the Navy in 2015, he has been working in the nonprofit sector.
Levels of Excellence Award Submissions
May 1 is the deadline to submit your nomination entry for a Levels of Excellence Award. Find more details about this year’s competition.
Councils and chapters that want to be considered for a Levels of Excellence Award need to submit a nomination entry by May 1. To receive the maximum recruiting points, chapters must have 95% or more of their members be national MOAA members. Chapters have until March 31 to reflect member status in their committee module rosters.
A standard set of rating criteria will be used to evaluate all councils and chapters that submit a package. The very, very best councils or chapters receive a five-star award, and above-average councils or chapters receive a four-star award.
ROTC/Junior ROTC Medals Program
Medals and printed certificates should be available again by early fall.
Due to insurmountable supply-chain challenges, MOAA and The MOAA Store are unable to provide medals or printed award certificates to chapters in time for spring 2021 presentations. Instead, chapters should customize and print digital certificates that are located on our webpage. We fully expect to resolve the current situation and have an adequate supply of medals by early fall. At that time, chapters will be able to order medals to award retroactively, if desired, as well as place orders for the next school year. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
Surviving Spouse Corner: How to Become an Effective Advocate
These tips can help you get started advocating for legislation that impacts military surviving spouses.
By Dr. Vivianne Cisneros Wersel, Surviving Spouse Advisory Council member
It can be very frustrating to find yourself in a position when legislation needs to be changed, but you are unsure where to start.
My nearly 16 years’ experience in legislation as an advocate affords me the opportunity to share with you how you can become more involved in improving military survivor benefits. Many surviving spouses already are seasoned advocates, thanks to MOAA and other veteran service organizations. However, for those who are new to this frontier, the following guidance can help you learn to advocate and navigate the process with confidence.
- Find your passion. Choose an issue that directly affects you. This will have more of an impact when telling your story.
- Gather information. Find fact sheets from MOAA’s Surviving Spouses and Friends Facebook page, MOAA.org, your local MOAA chapter (legislative committee), or the Surviving Spouses Virtual Chapter. Construct a simple blog regarding how this issue impacts you as a military surviving spouse. Be yourself. It is important you feel comfortable discussing the issue, even if you do not have all the details. Information can be sent later.
- Determine whether the issue is local, state, or federal. Some examples include:
- Federal: Improve VA Dependency Indemnity Compensation, remarriage law
- State: Professional licensure, property tax exemption, benefits of military surviving spouses
- Local (City/County): Noise abatements, zoning ordinance
- Cultivate relationships with staffers. This is important because staffers are the ones who will make a difference to move the effort forward. Again, tell your story (brief). Prepare a short bio to help connect you with a staffer and or member when setting up a meeting.
- Establish a meeting. During COVID-19, meetings will be held via a virtual platform. There are some advantages, such as no parking issues or inclement weather restrictions. If you do not feel comfortable with a virtual meeting, call the elected official’s office and asked for a phone conference appointment with the appropriate staffer or ask to leave a message on staffer’s phone. Even though you did not virtually meet with the staffer or member, what is important is you raised awareness about your issue. Remember, the elected official and staffer — whether it is federal, state or local — work for you. You are their constituent.
A future webinar is being planned to provide specifics on Advocacy in Action.
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From the Field
MOAA chapters give back to their communities through fundraising efforts, community-service projects, scholarship programs, and other initiatives. Here are some recent activities.
The Upper Cumberland (Tenn.) Chapter recently made a donation to Tennessee Fisher House Foundation through its MOAA Helps charitable fund. Though the primary focus of the fund is to support a scholarship program for Junior ROTC students, chapter members made a special contribution to the fund this past Christmas in support of the Tennessee Fisher House Foundation.
The George C. Marshall (Va.) Chapter provided record support to local veterans, active duty personnel, Guard and Reserve members, and retired personnel and their dependents in 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic. The chapter donated $16,195 to the Virginia Veteran and Family Support program; awarded $7,250 in total grants to the Rockbridge Area Hospice, the Rockbridge Area Health Center, the Rockbridge Area Transportation System, and the Community Table; and $1,000 each to two Junior ROTC programs. Additionally, the chapter contributed an additional $7,500 to its endowment in the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath, and Alleghany counties, which supports an annual scholarship for the dependent of a veteran who will attend college the following year.
Members of the Catalina Mountains Satellite (Tucson) Chapter collected and donated needed kitchen items for some 50 newly opened apartment units at Esperanza En Escalante, which provides housing, counseling, and supportive services to veterans facing homelessness. The chapter’s donation included coffee pots, toasters, dishes, glasses, and assorted household goods.
The Green Valley (Ariz.) Chapter recently donated $1,000 to the food locker of the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard. Former Army 1st Lt. Joe Longo, chapter president, presented the check to Col. Sandra Wilson, vice commander, 162nd Fighter Wing.
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