(A version of this article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Military Officer, a magazine available to all MOAA Premium and Life members. Learn more about the magazine here; learn more about joining MOAA here.)
In 2020, despite an unprecedented pandemic, MOAA emerged stronger. The "widows tax" is being eliminated thanks to MOAA’s advocacy; The MOAA Foundation stood up the COVID-19 Relief Fund; and staff productivity increased despite a switch to a teleworking environment. MOAA has a strong cadence executing its strategic plan with the six pillars of advocacy, membership, member engagement, chapters and councils, finances, and organizational capacity.
Advocacy. We cannot ignore the impact of fiscal challenges such as the national debt and deficit, budget caps, and sequestration. We center on service-earned entitlements such as health care, pay, and benefits. As we approach spring, we will align Storming the Hill topics with these objectives.
[RELATED: MOAA's 2021 Legislative Mission]
Expanding the scope of MOAA’s charities. We will use the generous donations to the Scholarship Fund for the largest possible number of deserving students. We’re working to increase donations to The MOAA Foundation to better support programs that help military families. The COVID-19 Relief Fund provides emergency financial assistance for struggling servicemembers and veterans. We expect to institutionalize this type of assistance.
[DONATE TODAY: Give to MOAA Charities]
Increasing engagement and member experiences. We will build on our success to attract and retain members. Programs such as career transition services and financial education, spouse programs, advocacy, scholarships, and insurance opportunities are key components targeting newer members and valued by our current members. Our magazine and digital products have been re-engineered, setting us up for innovation in how we influence, connect, and serve.
Increasing membership. We can increase membership if people understand and value what we’re doing. Getting the word out on who we are and how we advocate for servicemembers and veterans and their families will drive our great value as worthy of membership. I ask all MOAA members to talk to others about the work MOAA is doing as well as the value of membership.
[RELATED: Why Join MOAA?]
Innovating chapters and councils. Chapters are the lifeblood of MOAA, but their recruiting and community engagement efforts are challenged by the current crisis. We’re countering with additional financial and training support to our state council presidents. Our virtual chapter program is thriving and expanding. We recently added a chapter supporting the U.S. Public Health Service and will look to initiate others in the future.
Focusing on diversity. Diversity of membership gives us diversity of thought — something that will position MOAA for even greater success in the future. We’re working to further diversify the board of directors to ensure proper representation.
In the months ahead, I look forward to working with the entire board, MOAA staff, and MOAA members to strengthen MOAA and our ability to serve the uniformed services, their families, and survivors.
Never stop serving!