The Association of the United States Army – "Voice of the Soldier – Support for the Army" – is the Army’s professional organization.AUSA offers specialized programs and exhibitions for soldiers of all ranks – active, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, Department of the Army civilians, retirees, veterans, civilians, military academy and ROTC cadets, family members and the men and women who work in the defense industry.The Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, held each October in Washington, is the Association’s premier event that focuses on and highlights strengthening the Army’s professional development.With a record-breaking attendance of over 36,000 attendees, the 2011 Annual Meeting had more than 500 military and industry exhibits occupying three city blocks – and, for the first time, the entire Walter E. Washington Convention Center.Throughout the three-day Annual Meeting and Exposition, there were 14 contemporary military forums, four family forums, three noncommissioned officer forums and a series of special presentations.The 2012 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition with its theme: "America’s Army – Service to the Nation, Strength for the Future," will be held Oct. 22 to 24 with, according to Association officials, "new and technologically dynamic industry and Army exhibits, thought provoking contemporary military forums, military family forums with interesting topics and well-informed speakers, and special presentations and Army events."Here is what some of the participants, said about AUSA’s 2011 professional development forum.CW4 Silvia LoveFort Knox, Ky."I think the most interesting thing about this conference is that there’s such a variety of military, civilian and contractors, and there’s something for everybody, not just top military or contracting personnel. Every rank is represented, from privates to generals, and there’s a variety of information."Also, I think the information that they provide for family members is a wonderful addition because while so many troops are deployed, the family members need the kind of information that I discovered here. I think a lot of family members are not aware of these opportunities."That’s what I’m going to take back with me is all the information, all the programs that are available for every level of military and civilian support."Staff Sgt. Rachael RomanoProtocol NCOOffice of the Director of the Army National GuardNational Guard Bureau"This morning I sat in on the Sergeant Major of the Army Conference and it was very informative. He kept it open like a forum so we could ask questions and gain some knowledge on just how, and what, our future in the Army is going to be."We talked about retirement; talked about removing the stigma on seeing behavioral health professionals, talked about sexual assault – just real life issues that soldiers deal with."I’m going to go back to and talk to my friends about the things I saw, meeting up with active duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers, and reconnecting with friends that you’ve seen in other professional development settings."Maj. Gen. Fred ReesOregon Adjutant General"I find this is a great way to make sure that we’re in touch with the ‘total Army’ and understand the way ahead. With the budget situation the way it is, we’re all anxious to know what’s happening in that arena and what that may mean for structure and for our soldiers in the future."It is a great place to renew acquaintances, and hear what the secretary of the Army is saying. You get a chance to hear from fellow soldiers from around the world and what their experiences are, particularly those that are coming from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan."Capt. Chris MitchellNational Guard BureauArlington, Virginia"Each time I come out to the Annual Meeting, I get a view on future events within the Army National Guard and also within the Army as a whole. And I get a sense for the visions that the leaders have as well as some of the future equipment that we might be seeing at some point."I’d really recommend folks to come on out to this conference. There’s something for every level of troop, whether it’s a matter of seeing what’s coming your way in the future or whether it’s a matter of understanding the vision."ommand Sgt. Maj. Edd WatsonCommand Sergeant Major3rd Infantry DivisionFort Stewart, Ga."What’s been the most interesting part is the opportunity to do a lot of fellowshipping, and attend a lot of the forums, Family Forums, and educational forums that are available. This is my very first Annual Meeting, and this is truly a momentous event. I’m meeting a lot of my friends, and educating myself on AUSA and how it operates and what it does for the community."I’ve been a member of AUSA for a long time now, and I’m truly seeing how it has progressed and how it’s touching soldiers in our formations."My wife is in attendance today as well, and she’s going to a Family Forum to better recognize and understand how our families are interwoven into today’s military."It encompasses education, and education, as we always say, is a life-long learning adventure. And by educating myself, I can bring back some of everything we’ve talked about here and incorporate it into our daily lives at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and the 3rd Infantry Division. And this will give us a better opportunity to boost our membership and teach our soldiers what AUSA is about and how it helps soldiers and families in the community."It’s not just a magazine or newspaper; it’s a way of life. I’d just like to say thanks for the opportunity to come here, and I can tell you that AUSA has served a great purpose here."Staff Sgt. John HeslinActive Army Drill Sergeant of the YearOffice of the Deputy Commanding GeneralInitial Military TrainingFort Eustis, Va."The most interesting thing is how big it is. I had no idea it was going to be this huge. We were walking around the exhibits yesterday, and it was just amazing how many contractors and how many soldiers came out here to support this event."This is a great event to come to. It’s pretty much a once in a lifetime experience, because in my first seven years in the Army I never experienced anything like this. I had no idea this was even going on.Sgt. 1st Class Adrienne CampuzanoActive Army Recruiter of the Year154th Medical DetachmentCamp Walker, Korea"This is my first full-blown Annual Meeting, and I am just totally blown away. The opening ceremony is a bigger production than I ever thought it would be."I can tell you, being a soldier of 15 years, the Army is changing. They’re trying to advance physical fitness to prepare soldiers for combat, so that’s one thing I have to prepare my new troops coming in the Army for -- to be experienced when they get deployed, to be physically fit."Being at the Annual Meeting, there are so many senior leaders that have been through the ranks, been through the mud, that have paved the way for us, and there’s so much experience walking around here, from retired colonels, to senior enlisted."There is so much experience walking around here. All you have to do is open your mouth, ask a question, and you get bombarded with all this knowledge."Sgt. 1st Class Daniel R. Lucas Jr.Army Reserve Recruiter of the YearStation CommanderMedical Recruiting StationKansas City, Mo."The most interesting part of the Annual Meeting for me has been the ability to see how the senior leaders of our organization look at the big picture as far as how they are looking at developing soldiers."Meeting the sergeant major of the Army and the Army chief of staff, of course, was very important, but also to see their vision and what they’re really looking at to be able to develop us as soldiers."The vision that sergeant major of the Army has for the NCO Corps on how to develop us more as professionals, things like how we should be more into our PT, taking care of our fundamentals and the soldiers beneath us. This has really given me a lot more confidence and kick started my ‘Hooah.’"Sgt. 1st Class Tavia L. MoschettiRecruiter of the YearMontana Army National Guard"The most interesting thing is the value that I’ve gained from being here and being around the leadership and listening to the symposiums and the information that’s being sent forward that’s going to help me help my soldiers in the future."Coming to this AUSA meeting has opened my eyes to the extensiveness of what is available to us and how we can possibly incorporate that into each of our states and our nation as a whole to make us better at what we do on an everyday level. This is amazing, enormous and it’s quite an honor and a privilege to have been invited to it."Sgt. David Dunn3rd U.S. Infantry RegimentThe Old GuardFort Myer, Va."I attended the Physical Readiness Test forum, an example of how they’re actually going to change the PT test. They’re going add more events so that people are more physically trained for combat situations. I’m going to bring most of the information I’ve learned to my unit, so that we are more able to deploy stronger and more capable of finishing our mission."I actually didn’t know that I was going meet the NCO of the year and the soldier of the year, and I was actually on the stage and I presented them with the award with the sergeant major of the Army."Angela RiddellFamily Readiness Support Assistant
209th Aviation Support Battalion25th Combat Aviation BrigadeHawaii"The most interesting thing, I believe, is meeting other people from all over the country and actually from all over the world and finding out the commonalties that we have as far as issues concerning the families and the soldiers and having the common goal of finding solutions in order to help them."People need to come. AUSA is an excellent organization that is designed to help advocate for the Army as well as for soldiers and families."And if you really need help, you need to talk to them and bring up issues and find out what is going on so that we can get these things done."The Army is working really hard to support our families and soldiers, and there are resources available, and we should take advantage of them, and they’re free, and they are available."I’ve had a chance to talk with some Family Readiness Support Assistants from Korea, Alaska and Guam, and I was able to find out what’s going on in those areas and compare it to what’s happening here."I’ve also found out about programs that are new that I didn’t know about, and I can take that back and share with my families."This is an absolutely great opportunity. There’s a lot of knowledge being shared. It’s a great way to learn about what’s going on and to become updated on what’s going on and to voice any concerns that you would have because you have the higher echelons of the Army here."Staff Sgt. Jacob Walter McClinton173rd Airborne Brigade Combat TeamVicenza, Italy"I would say that the most interesting thing is just all the new products that we get to see."I’m on the front line a little bit, time spent in Afghanistan – I get to see all the new products that are going to be coming our way or the things that the Army is considering picking up for us."There’s been some technology out here that seriously, seriously changes my entire perception of what future soldiers are going to be getting. So it’s pretty intense – what’s going on out here."I’m just going to let [my fellow soldiers back in Italy] know the simple amount of companies that we have backing us as U.S. service members and the amount of people who are really interested in making our kit and making our equipment better to complete our mission at the end of the day."This is just an excellent expose of what’s new, and what the Army is looking for today."