The president of the Association of the United States Army challenged 27 new chapter presidents to provide strong leadership locally in the Association’s volunteer organization so AUSA is truly: The Voice of the Army – Support for the Soldier.” Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said, “Without strong leadership at the local level we will go nowhere.”
The Association has more than 106,000 members organized into 126 100 chapters worldwide. “We are a people business” and “an organization that tells the story of the American soldier that reaches out to their families.”
Kicking off three days of training June 11, Sullivan said, “We are an inclusive organization, anyone with an interest in the Army can join.”
He said leaders are eager “know what is happening, what is not happening. Have you been to the guard armory, do you know the reserve center commander? What can I do to influence the action?”
Sullivan said AUSA embraces the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless serve, honor, integrity and personal courage.
He said, “This is serious business,” and he encouraged the newly-elected chapter presidents to “have a shared vision” with their members and use their expertise and experience during their tenure in office.
“Retired command sergeants major are critical to the success of the organization. Get your arms around them.”
He advised them to create a number of vice presidents for special constituencies – noncommissioned officers, guard, reserve, retirees, Department of the Army civilians, etc.
“Leaders communicate -- but listen.” While they need to prepare and think through what they do, they must have a propensity to act. “When in charge, be in charge.”
Quoting Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the recently recognized AUSA 2009 Outstanding Legislator, on the importance of the Army now, Sullivan said, “The men and women of the Army unified this country” by their willingness to serve wherever they have been ordered.
Adding, “That’s what you have done. It’s a lesson we learned very tragically in Vietnam” when political divisions over support for the war spilled over into disregard for returning soldiers.
Looking at the issues facing the Army, Sullivan said, “We are asking too few to do too much repeatedly. No one who went to war is the same as before they went and so it is with their families.”
AUSA “must support the Army nationally and locally. You have to tailor it for your chapter.”
Using Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania as an example, he said, “You need to know how much of the Army budget is set aside for reset.”
Adding, “We’ve got lots of tools for you to use.”
Over the course of the three-day training session, held at the Association’s national headquarters in Arlington, Va., the presidents were given briefing on chapter finances and reports, how to attract different kinds of members, marketing, raising money, changes coming in AUSA’s computer system, the value of “leader Links” on the AUSA Web site and chapter operations.
They also heard from AUSA directors and staff members on what AUSA does for families, the defense industry and how to work grassroots issues on Capitol Hill.
They also learned what role the Association’s resolutions play in setting its legislative agenda for the year, and how the national awards process works.
LTG Roger Thompson, USA, Ret., AUSA’s vice president for membership and meetings said, “We can arm you the need to be a real leader.”
John Davies, director of regional activities, said it was especially important for the presidents elect to know what the Association’s expectations were of them, and, for the Association, to know what the presidents expected from national headquarters to avoid frustration and to AUSA objectives.
“In a volunteer organization, the fastest way to deal with frustration is to get up and leave.”
Adding, “We expect you to tell us how we can help.”
“The bottom line is membership,” Lt. Gen. Theodore Stroup, USA, Ret., AUSA vice president for education, said.