National Guard February 2011 : Page 27

and at the National Guard Bureau and the Pentagon. But there is a weak link in our ability to communicate with you. We have less than half of our members’ e-mail addresses. We can’t keep you informed if we can’t reach you, and to do that, we need your e-mail address. That’s a high priority here. I won’t be happy until we can communicate with all of our members. That’s important because there is so much good news. We want you to know about our proactive efforts with members of Congress. We’re driving the conversation on Capitol Hill, not waiting for things to happen. When the Post-9/11 GI Bill became law in 2008, it was NGAUS that noticed its flaws. And it was NGAUS that pushed for improvements. A new law was signed last month that is better for all Guardsmen. And when the Air Force tried to snatch some of the Air Guard’s C-130s, NGAUS aimed a spotlight at this plane grab and brought it to a screeching halt. We’re not doing this alone. We’re part of a coalition that includes the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States and the Adjutants General Association of the United States. We all represent a singular constituency with its own unique goals. We’re having quality face time with many leaders on the Hill, including the new leadership of both the Senate and House Guard caucuses. We had a record number of meet-ings with lawmakers last year. And we’ve been proud to have several of them visit us here at our marvelous building. We’ve even added two people to the legislative programs staff to boost our presence around the halls of Congress. So we are being heard. And I’m proud to say, you are being heard, too. Members of the House and Senate received more than 108,000 messages from NGAUS members through the Write to Congress feature on our website. This is great news. But, again, the downside is that too many of those mes-sages come from the same people over and over. We need more of you to add your voices to the effort. Speaking of that, we want more members. With more voices, we will carry more weight in the battle for the shrinking federal budget. Our membership stayed pretty even during the past year. But I am convinced it can grow. To help make that happen, we held regional workshops last year in Wyoming, Tennessee and Missouri so states with low membership could hear from those with 100 percent membership on how to pull in new members. It was a chance for some states to mentor others and I’m sure I saw the enthusiasm grow in those struggling states as they couldn’t wait to get home and test out these new ideas. We anticipate seeing the positive results flow in this year. There is a weak link in our ability to communicate with you. We have less than half of our members’ e-mail addresses. If our membership grows, our influence in Washington, D.C., will grow with it. We have other members, too, that we like to brag about. Our corporate membership program is as strong as it’s ever been. And we’re trying to take advantage of that by seeking input from them in a more regular way. The Corporate Advisory Panel is now surveying our partners in industry, asking them to weigh in on how the association can better serve them. We want them to be fully involved in our efforts. I look forward to their insight. One thing I’m especially proud of here is our museum. The National Guard Memorial Museum is the only mu-seum dedicated to the history of the entire National Guard. In the works now is a plan to renovate the museum’s space and create an exhibit that will highlight the citizen-soldier in the 21st century. From 9/11 and the war on ter-rorism to Hurricane Katrina to the expanding State Partner-ship Program, the profile of the National Guard has grown. There’s no better place to tell that important story. Of course, such an ambitious plan requires money. But I have good news there, too. The National Guard Educational Foundation, which op-erates the museum and the library, enjoyed a record year. The Legion de Lafayette welcomed 22 new members and receiveded a total of $406,000. This money will help endow the foundation and fund the museum and library. We can’t thank these friends enough for their generosity. And I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, but you can expect to hear even more good news next month regarding the Legion de Lafayette. I could go on and on about my first year at the helm of NGAUS. As I said, it has been a joy. And it has been an education, as well. Each member of Congress is an individual, with his or her own background and way of doing things. We have to approach each of them in a different way. And each has a unique understanding of the Guard. But I know each of these 435 people cares about this country and wants it to continue as the world’s symbol of the best of mankind. So, our job should be easy. We only have to convince them that the solutions for many of the problems facing our country are found in the National Guard. I believe that. And I’m sure you believe it. Help us take that message to the people who make the laws and control the purse strings in this country. Remind them that Guardsmen represent everything right about America. Be a part of the exciting work of NGAUS on behalf of a better America. The president can be reached at February 2011 | 27

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