he Association of the United States Army – celebrating its 60th anniversary of "Voice of the Army – Support for the Soldier" – is the Army’s professional association, offering specialized programs and exhibitions for soldiers of all ranks – active, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve – Department of the Army civilians, retirees, veterans, military academy and ROTC cadets, family members and the men and women who work in defense industry.
AUSA’s premier event in strengthening the Army’s professionalism is its Annual Meeting and Exposition held in October in Washington.
With a record-breaking attendance of over 33,000 people, the Annual Meeting and Exposition this year also had more than 500 military and industry exhibits occupying three city blocks. Through the three days, there were professional development forums to include contemporary military forums, family forums, and special programs, forums for soldiers and noncommissioned officers, plus addresses by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Army Secretary John McHugh, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, and Gen. David Petraeus, Central Command commanding general, to name a few.
Here is what some participants, including drill sergeants of the year, top recruiters, soldiers from all components, Department of the Army civilians and retirees, are saying about AUSA’s professional development forum and the largest landpower exhibition in the world.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Ken Preston
Throughout this past year, the recognition for our noncommissioned officers, both past and present, has been absolutely amazing. To see the opportunities out there to recognize our veterans and those who have contributed to all of us, who continue to wear the uniform and continue to wear our dog tags has been very heartwarming.
There’s so much here that not one person can really cover down on everything. I’d recommend for all of our senior leaders out there in units and organizations bring a team of folks in, really capture all the dynamics and the information that comes out of this forum and then use that information to take back to the soldiers and families back in their units.
Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Sean Angry
Army National Guard
AUSA has always been like a family reunion. So I always get to come back and see my old compadres and classmates. It’s fellowship with my fellow sergeants major as well as junior soldiers.
You learn a lot, you see a lot and you know where the Army is going.
Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Caffie
U.S Army Reserve
I’m an Army Reserve soldier and I have a lot of my senior NCOs and a lot of my officers here as well.
What I prefer is to bring some of my lower ranking soldiers and give them an opportunity to not only view, but to hear the great speakers that we have in this organization.
I’ve been an NCO for a long time. This is a great opportunity for us to put in the forefront the people that do most of the hard work in the United States Army, the young men and women who step forward each day and accept greater responsibility. This is overdue and this is very rewarding.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Carey
U.S Army Forces Command
[AUSA] is the premier organization that supports the Army. So our folks need to get up here and support it. And, it’s a partnership that we have with AUSA, and it’s only going to get better with more people we have participating in it.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel W. Bailey
82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, and deployed to Afghanistan
Being able to be with the senior leadership and senior noncommissioned officers from throughout the Army and being able to talk to them, hear their experiences, see what’s affecting them, how they go through training with their units and prepare for deployments and just different challenges they face and how they overcome them.
Sgt. 1st Class Anika Anderson-Hack
Army Medical Recruiting Command, Fifth Medical Recruiting Battalion, St. Louis, Mo.
Coming here has benefited me as a recruiter because I feel as though AUSA, being the voice for the Army and for the soldier, is taking us in the direction that we need to go. Cutting edge technology, the different plans that are in store for us as a fighting force, it’s important to me to be able to know that information while I’m out recruiting doctors and nurses.
Sgt. Jerrod Fields
World Class Athlete Program, Fort Carson, Colo., Track and Field
I would tell people that we’re in good hands. I think that all the new technology and equipment will better assist us in this war on terrorism. I would say to fellow soldiers to come out, check it out and get really excited about how the Army is moving.
Staff Sgt. Joshua John Marshall
Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
A benefit from the AUSA [Annual Meeting] for me is some of the things that I’m learning from the senior Army leadership and the experience of being around the retired personnel.
There was a Medal of Honor recipient in one of our conferences yesterday. I’ve never met a Medal of Honor recipient before.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark T. Baker, USA, Ret.
Vice President, Coastal Empire Chapter and BAE Systems
As part of an AUSA chapter, let’s sponsor some soldiers and send them to the Annual Meeting so they can see what the Association does for them; and Congress, and what the Association does for them as far as bringing industries in for new products and services.
Staff Sgt. Michael Johnston
Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
The meeting benefits me personally being a drill sergeant and a representative of drill sergeants. I can talk to some of the senior noncommissioned officers and senior officers. I can give my advice as a drill sergeant and let our story be told from that level.
When I went [to the exhibits hall], the amount of civilians down there that actually care and that are trying to make our Army better [was impressive]. They’re not just trying to make a buck, and they’re not trying to just get their name on something. They’re actually trying to get stuff out to the battlefield or out there for training to help make our Army better.
Sgt. 1st Class Shateria Rahming
Miami Recruiting Battalion, Miami, Fla.
The highlight for me was sitting down having lunch right next to the new secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff. So that was a moment that I’ll never forget. Just to have an opportunity to sit down and shake their hand and them saying: "Congratulations, Sergeant Rahming. Job well done" actually means a lot to me. It’s something I can take back to my peers and also motivate them to strive for excellence.
Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers
World Class Athlete Program, Fort Carson, Colo., Greco-Roman Wrestling
Being able to meet all the Paralympic athletes, especially the ones that ran in the Army Ten-Miler, that’s very impressive to me. They embody what the Army’s all about – never quit, never die, never surrender, just keep going, keep going, keep going. It shows what soldiers can do.
Staff Sgt. Gonzalo Fernandez
Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Guam Army National Guard
I think this will help with my professional development, learning the latest and the greatest from the cream of the crop, it doesn’t get any better than that. Several people from all different Commands. I’m from the Army National Guard, so meeting people from active duty and the reserve components, learning what they’re doing because we’re all one Army, is good. I look forward to doing again next year.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Borja
Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Forces Strategic Command
I come every year to gather up valuable information with the forums and the panels that they have and the breakout groups. I would tell the junior soldiers to get with their leadership and attend as many of the events – the forums, the breakfasts – for noncommissioned officers, officers, even our family members here that are committed to our soldiers and their families and what they do year-in, year-out, whether they’re deployed or non-deployed.
World War II Veteran
When I joined I was a private, and went into aerial photography school. I’ve been attending the Annual Meetings for about 20 years. There’s always something new.
I believe that this is a wonderful way of communicating so that each and every one knows that he is fully appreciated for the job that is being done of all, both over in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Capt. Karla Pfeiffer
Iowa Army National Guard, Camp Dodge, Iowa
Chapter President, Des Moines Freedom Chapter
As a chapter president, this meeting helps me to network with other chapter presidents to gain a better understanding of programs that do work in their communities so I can bring those same types of programs to my community.
As a soldier, it’s a great opportunity to see some of the industry leaders providing their products and wares, and I have made some connections on a professional level with some vendors here.
Staff Sgt. Steven James Bosson
Fort Carson, Colo., duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Archery
I would tell anybody that was thinking about coming [to the AUSA Annual Meeting] that it’s a definite must for before you end your career in the military. Even after you get out and you want to see what the military’s doing, this is a good place to do it because you see everything here.
1st Lt. Joseph Pittard
89th Transportation Company, 6th Transportation Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade
I’ve been attending the family forums, and I’ve enjoyed those. I’m real big on the Family Readiness Groups, and learning more on how FRG operates.
Lt. Col. Tammy McKenna
The biggest thing is always the professional development seminars that they have. I like to attend the ones where the families go. It’s always of interest for me to see how we’re doing as an Army, having been a garrison commander, and providing those services. I can find out how they think we’re doing.
Environmental Engineer, Materiel Test Directorate, Army Test and Evaluation Command, White Sand Missile Range
Chapter President, White Sands Missile Range Chapter
This provides me an opportunity to conduct both jobs – as a chapter president and Department of the Army civilian. We need to have more NCOs involved with AUSA and them to understand this is for them too; not just for officers. This is a wide-ranging opportunity for civilians; all members of the military, doesn’t matter their rank and whether they’re retired, active duty, National Guard, Army Reserve.
From leadership development, it just adds more tools in my toolbox to use, both professionally and personally. They have multiple forums for the civilians today, also retirement. There’s always something for all groups.
If you’re not a member and you want to support your soldier and the soldier’s family, then becoming a member of AUSA would be a great opportunity to provide services back to those who serve us.
And, I have chosen to volunteer.
If they want to get in front of the customer, this is a good place to be.
Maj. Karen Meeker
Accessions Officer, Army Chief of Chaplain’s Office
Seeing a lot of old friends, just seeing people that I haven’t seen for years. You know, separated by different deployment cycles and different moves throughout the world, and just to run into old friends, it’s just been a real treat.
To be able to share the story of the Chaplain Corps and what the chaplains are all about is just a great opportunity to be able to share with others what we do, what our capabilities are, what our resources are and how we can network with other groups that support the soldier and the families.
Spc. Andrew Curtis Joyce
21st Theater Sustainment Command
I’ve got to talk to a lot of senior people, meet some new people and work closely with a lot of sergeants major. It’s been a good experience all around. I’ll encourage my peers to try to do what they can so they’ll get the chance and opportunity to come out here as I did.
Spc. Juan Martinez
14th Transportation Battalion, Vicenza, Italy
You see a lot of new equipment they’re trying to adopt into the military. I know what kind of new equipment to look forward to, the companies that are actually behind it, how they’re trying to integrate it and the uses that are being put behind it and the reasons why.
Spc. Emily Fannin
18th Airborne Corps, G2 Ace
I really liked to see what we’re doing virtual reality-wise. Good training. So I’m going to try to take that training back to them and see what we can get started at our unit. If I could bring a bus load of people down here, I would. It’s great.
Master Sgt. Elva Marquez
Medic, Force Sustainment Brigade, Fort Hood
I would tell my peers that they should at least come one time to experience it and to at least bring a junior soldier because this is kind of a mentorship. They can show them why it’s important to be in the Army and to be active. I’m just happy.
I love the Army.