National Guard February 2012 : Page 22

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Success on Two Fronts The NGAUS president arrived two years ago on a mission to improve lobbying and increase membership and fundraising. Today, only one area lags By Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr. Y OFFICE AT the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., provided a wonderful vantage point to observe our association during one of the most successful years in its 134-year history. From my seat just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, I witnessed everything from the uncertain beginning to the slam-dunk conclusion of our effort to put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). But that was not our only accomplishment. The efforts of NGAUS in 2011 made lives better for the men and women of the National Guard in many ways. I’ll get to those later, but let’s talk first about this historic achievement regarding the chief. It was, from my unique perspective as NGAUS presi-dent, a thing of beauty, with many people playing key roles in what was a long, hard and ultimately successful fight. For example, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., got the ball rolling in January last year with the Guardians of Freedom Act that specifically would boost the chief’s status. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., did the same in the House. Both men responded to the urging of my friend, retired Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, the former West Virginia adjutant general. I admit to being surprised in May when Rep. Candice M Miller, R-Mich., joined Rahall and introduced the idea in an amendment to the House version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill. She later told us that her motiva-tion was the cover story on the matter in the May issue of this magazine. I was even more surprised when the House approved it in a unanimous voice vote. To me, that was a turning point in our effort. At the same time, the Senate was taking up the issue. Our good friends, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lind-sey Graham, R-S.C., the co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, introduced what we called Guard Empow-erment II, which included several provisions to benefit the Guard. And this is where the view from my seat became par-ticularly satisfying. What I then saw was a team effort that would have made any NFL coach proud. It certainly did me. The NGAUS legislative staff put together a battle plan and executed it to perfection. Reaching out to senators from both sides of the aisle and making countless personal visits with lawmakers and staffers, we secured 70 co-sponsors. The 54 adjutants general made their voices heard in conversations with their senators. The governors and other 22 | Na tional Guard

Success On Two Fronts

Retired Maj. Gen.Gus L. Hargett Jr.

MY OFFICE AT the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., provided a wonderful vantage point to observe our association during one of the most successful years in its 134-year history.<br /> <br /> From my seat just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, I witnessed everything from the uncertain beginning to the slam-dunk conclusion of our effort to put the chief of the National Guard Bureau on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).<br /> <br /> But that was not our only accomplishment. The efforts of NGAUS in 2011 made lives better for the men and women of the National Guard in many ways.<br /> <br /> I’ll get to those later, but let’s talk first about this historic achievement regarding the chief.<br /> <br /> It was, from my unique perspective as NGAUS president, a thing of beauty, with many people playing key roles in what was a long, hard and ultimately successful fight.<br /> <br /> For example, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., got the ball rolling in January last year with the Guardians of Freedom Act that specifically would boost the chief’s status. Rep.Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., did the same in the House.<br /> <br /> Both men responded to the urging of my friend, retired Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, the former West Virginia adjutant general.<br /> <br /> I admit to being surprised in May when Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., joined Rahall and introduced the idea in an amendment to the House version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill. She later told us that her motivation was the cover story on the matter in the May issue of this magazine.<br /> <br /> I was even more surprised when the House approved it in a unanimous voice vote.<br /> <br /> To me, that was a turning point in our effort.<br /> <br /> At the same time, the Senate was taking up the issue.Our good friends, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, introduced what we called Guard Empowerment II, which included several provisions to benefit the Guard.<br /> <br /> And this is where the view from my seat became particularly satisfying.<br /> <br /> What I then saw was a team effort that would have made any NFL coach proud. It certainly did me.<br /> <br /> The NGAUS legislative staff put together a battle plan and executed it to perfection. Reaching out to senators from both sides of the aisle and making countless personal visits with lawmakers and staffers, we secured 70 co-sponsors.<br /> <br /> The 54 adjutants general made their voices heard in conversations with their senators. The governors and other Associations, including the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), also joined the bandwagon.<br /> <br /> And you members of NGAUS responded to Legislative Alerts in numbers that couldn’t be ignored on Capitol Hill.<br /> <br /> Our communications team kept the issue in front of our members through our fine magazine and the popular Washington Report weekly e-newsletter. The staff produced People,Press releases that resulted in our message reaching even more people across America.<br /> <br /> And we used special networks to spread the word even further.<br /> <br /> It’s no wonder that one observer familiar with the effort but outside our organization told me that it was the best piece of lobbying he’d seen in 20 years.<br /> <br /> And it’s not like we had clear sailing on this. Giving the chief this elevated seat was resisted by some powerful including the six gentlemen on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several influential senators.<br /> <br /> They thought this was overreach, an unnecessary exercise that would cause confusion in the force.<br /> <br /> But we prevailed. Even before the vote came just before Christmas, our foes understood they had been defeated.<br /> <br /> It was a thrill last month to see Gen. Craig R. McKinley standing with his colleagues on the JCS when President Barack Obama unveiled his plans for the U.S. military in The years ahead.<br /> <br /> Believe me, it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was fortunate to be in this seat when it happened and I thank all of you who were involved for your contributions.<br /> <br /> And as I said earlier, the chief’s new status was not our only accomplishment.<br /> <br /> We secured re-employment rights for Title 32 Guard duty, expanded the ability of health care professionals To reach our members who live in rural areas, obtained behavior health support for Guardsmen during drills and increased funding for military construction and equipment.<br /> <br /> We also successfully pushed for a three-star position as NGB vice chief and permanent funding for the Guard’s State Partnership Program.<br /> <br /> I’ll stop there, but I could go on.<br /> <br /> From a legislative point of view alone, last year was a wonder to behold.<br /> <br /> But in the process of winning these legislative battles, we made the association stronger in many ways.<br /> <br /> For example, I think the relationship between NGAUS and other associations, such as AGAUS and EANGUS, has strengthened. The same is true with our state and territory Guard associations, who rallied support when it was needed.<br /> <br /> None of this is unimportant, which is why I mention it.It strengthens our influence in this city.<br /> <br /> Along the way, we were able to maintain the momentum for the National Guard Educational Foundation.<br /> <br /> The Legion de Lafayette attracted 39 new members, who, along with annual gifts and those from current members, brought a total of $1,045,000 to the NGEF.<br /> <br /> Plus, generous friends have almost completely funded the 9/11 Era Gallery in the National Guard Memorial Museum. This will include a memorial to the nearly 700 Guardsmen who have been killed in the war on terrorism.<br /> <br /> The renovation should be complete later this year so Visitors will understand the broad array of missions and the many sacrifices of the Guard since terrorists attacked our country more than 10 years ago.<br /> <br /> Under the NGEF, and with generous support of DRS Technologies, we established the first scholarship fund for the children of Guardsmen killed in the war on terrorism.<br /> <br /> I had the honor of helping present the first award to the son of an Iowa Army Guard helicopter pilot killed in Iraq.<br /> <br /> It was a moment I will not quickly forget.<br /> <br /> When I came to this job two years ago, I pledged to accomplish three things—improve our lobbying effort, attract more money to NGEF and increase membership.<br /> <br /> As I’ve mentioned, two of those things are in the “mission accomplished” column. My lone regret is our failure to increase our membership (Chart, page 46).<br /> <br /> Our membership figures aren’t too bad, not at a time when many military associations are seeing significant Decreases in their membership. But most other military associations simply are not as vital to the health of their constituent organization as NGAUS is to the Guard.<br /> <br /> And I can’t think of a better time to reach out to those who have not yet joined. After the year we’ve had, everyone should see what we can accomplish when we all work together.<br /> <br /> Plus, the challenges this year are perhaps even more serious. The Defense Department has to cut its budget.We know where those Pentagon bean counters often look to find dollars to save. They look to the National Guard.If you are reading this, you are probably a NGAUS member. You know what the association can do with a strong, clear voice in the nation’s capital.<br /> <br /> We have to reach those people who are benefiting from all of our work, but have yet to make the investment to become a part of the TEAM.<br /> <br /> I want your ideas on how to do this. The NGAUS staff is willing to visit your state and speak about the importance of the work we do here.<br /> <br /> We’ll help officials from high-membership states mentor those in states that are struggling.<br /> <br /> Tell us what must be done to attract those who are now on the sidelines. As I travel and talk to people, I find that many of those who haven’t joined simply have never been asked.<br /> <br /> That was another promise of mine—to seek the input from our membership. We work hard to serve you in any way we can, so help me fulfill that obligation. And make Sure you provide us with your e-mail address. This will help us keep you informed.<br /> <br /> NGAUS has recently completed a wonderfully successful year. We were clicking on all cylinders and our journey through the recent 12 months hit a lot of green lights and smooth pavement.<br /> <br /> But, like I said, tough challenges lie on the road ahead.If we are to continue this momentum through 2012, we need an even stronger voice, an even more powerful message and an even greater dedication.<br /> <br /> To do that, this must be the year NGAUS membership hits the heights we know it can achieve.<br /> <br /> From where I sit, I know we can do it.<br /> <br /> Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr. Is the NGAUS president.He is responsible for the daily activities of the association staff in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at president@ngaus.org.

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