We support soldiers, educate Congress, inform industry

We support soldiers, educate Congress, inform industry

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Patricia McQuistion gave the U.S. Army 35 years of her life. To her, that was not enough.

The retired lieutenant general now serves as the Association of the United States Army vice president for membership and meetings.

She joined the civilian organization shortly after her retirement and focuses on ways to strengthen a group that supports the Army in several ways.

Retired Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, left, speaks with Jim Muskopf, middle, and Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba following the AUSA chapter’s annual Kick-Off Luncheon at the Dothan Civic Center. (Photo by Jeremy Wise)

“I came into the Army from birth. My dad retired as a first sergeant, I joined ROTC and after college, I joined,” McQuistion told the audience at the AUSA Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter’s annual Kick-Off Luncheon at the Dothan Civic Center.

“I believe in soldier for life,” she emphasized.

In her new role [as AUSA vice president for membership and meetings], McQuistion considers ways to increase the group’s membership.

AUSA, which champions itself as the “Voice for the Army,” offers a variety of services to soldiers past, present and future, she noted.

Mentorships also provide soldiers with a glimpse of career options after they leave the service.

“We educate the soldiers about career opportunities,” McQuistion said. “We’ll connect those who serve with those who did and those who will.”

Additionally, the organization exists to educate Congress about the challenges facing today’s Army, and informs industry leaders about ways they can help the branch.

AUSA also provides information, often conducting research projects on national security matters and publishing the results, McQuistion said.

The former three-star general said today’s culture creates a need for “support now more than ever.”

“Over 10 percent of our forces are engaged in operations every day in [several] countries,” she said.

Adding, “We have more than 1 million soldiers … but only 1 percent of the nation’s population will serve in the military. I know it’s hard to think about with Fort Rucker here, but 99 percent of the nation may not be connected in any way to the military.”

McQuistion said AUSA conducts “Meet the Army” gatherings in areas where the military presence may not be strong.

“AUSA must get the word out. We must inform the public what the Army is doing,” McQuistion said. “With ‘Meet the Army,’ we get leaders talking to the Army.”With the need for more members, McQuistion and her staff have sought ways to encourage enrollment.

One way has been the revamping of the benefits package. Members get discounts on certain items they purchase and also get to share in professional development opportunities.

“We have 86 people who work at the national headquarters,” she said.

“We walk in every day asking: ‘What are we going to do today to make life better for our members and our chapters?’”

McQuistion applauded the Wiregrass area’s support of AUSA.

“It’s nice to be back at Fort Rucker,” she said. “I never served here, but I visited a lot. You can’t have a conversation about Fort Rucker for long without hearing about the community support. It is an incredible community.”

(Editor’s note: This article was published with permission from the Dothan Eagle.)