While waiting in my little cabin in the remote Georgia mountains for a handyman, I decided to do an online search for a nearby MOAA chapter. I found one only 30 miles away, so I emailed my phone number to the chapter president and awaited a response.
The next day, he called and invited me to their chapter meetings, the state convention, and their Christmas dance. I responded with an invitation to my Florida chapter. We had such a lovely warm chat. It was almost like speaking to a member of my family.
[RELATED: Find a MOAA Chapter Near You]
I like to think of MOAA as a community, where joys, ambitions, sorrows, loyalties, and good works are shared. Connections of past service, local activities, charitable work, and legislative initiatives cement the bonds of friendship.
To strengthen our community, reach out. If you hang your hat at a second home, vacation someplace regularly, or spend more than a week with grown children or old friends in other locales, check to see if a MOAA chapter is nearby. By attending a meeting, you might gain new insights, learn their methods and successes, form bonds, and maybe reconnect with old friends. Observe the surviving spouses functioning in that chapter. Pick up pointers, and share your chapter’s successes.
To strengthen our community, reach younger. One summer, I took my grandson to a museum on an Air Force base. As we drove around, at each turn he exclaimed, “There’s a grocery store, a church, a gas station, a bowling alley! This is just like a little town!”
This was his first exposure to a military base. I had not realized what a great experience it would be for him. He was so impressed.
If you are near a base, check online for tours or museums open to youngsters. If that’s not possible, look for books about the military at your library. (Military Officer magazine often suggests books to read and has reviews.) You can also watch movies with a military theme. Be sure and check for age appropriateness, though.
[RELATED: MOAA's Military Professional Reading List]
Another opportunity is having an overnight party with the grandkids. Bring out the photo albums and scrapbooks. Explain your spouse’s role and assignments while in service. Relive some of your overseas adventures. The kids will love it. They’ll learn a new dimension of your life and enjoy viewing photos from your youth.
Instill patriotism and love of country in the younger generation. Remind them of their responsibilities and your spouse’s and family’s history of service and sacrifice. Tell them of the activities of your MOAA chapter and your role in their good works as a member, surviving spouse liaison, board member, or active volunteer. You will be extending that sense of community to the next generation.
Demonstrate and teach them to “never stop serving.”