MOAA has four virtual chapters: the Uniformed Services Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter, the Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter, the Public Health Service Virtual Chapter, and the Chaplains Virtual Chapter. MOAA’s virtual chapters are growing, successfully executing their respective missions, and complementing the efforts and membership growth of geographic chapters. We would like to continue to establish new virtual chapters to promote camaraderie amongst affinity groups and reach even more potential members.
Virtual chapters are intended to increase awareness of the MOAA brand by accessing previously untapped networks. Because virtual chapter membership requires national membership, and because virtual chapters encourage their members to also join their local geographic chapter, the potential effect is increased membership at all levels. We are, in fact, seeing that effect from these virtual chapters.
Like geographic chapters, virtual chapters are affiliates, not centrally managed. As such, each needs a champion who is willing to get the organization off the ground by drafting bylaws, filing for 501(c)(3) status, petitioning for MOAA approval, and recruiting members, among other actions. MOAA members who have been involved in leadership positions in geographic chapters are uniquely qualified to establish a new virtual chapter, thereby playing an integral role in an important membership initiative.
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By creating these groups, MOAA can attract potential chapter members who are not otherwise able or inclined to attend physical meetings. For example, younger military professionals with family obligations may find it difficult to attend a physical meeting even periodically, but they are more likely to find time to call in for a one-hour virtual meeting from home in the evening while keeping an eye on the children. Likewise, highly dispersed members, such as those living in remote overseas locations, may not otherwise have the ability to connect with peers on a regular basis and may enjoy the camaraderie provided by a monthly call.
A virtual chapter should be bound together by a shared affinity (e.g., warfare specialty) and/or mission (e.g., health care advocacy). While the possibilities are endless, some interest groups that may lend themselves to virtual chapters include:
- Currently serving officers
- Guard and reserve officers
- Member spouses
- Women veterans
- Networking/mentoring specialists
- State advocacy champions
- Army and Navy Club members
- Other military association members
- Overseas military/expatriate
- Judge advocates
- Financial professionals
Interested in starting one of these virtual chapters, or in championing another group? Contact Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret), MOAA's program director for engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Capt. Erin Stone, JAGC, USN (Ret), senior director for council and chapter affairs, at email@example.com, for more information.
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