Why should I join AUSA? – What’s in it for me?
Greetings from the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), our Army’s association for education and professional development, and a major supporter of the Army’s Soldier for Life efforts.
Last month I addressed why soldiers from all three components of the Army – the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve – along with our Army veterans, retired soldiers, Army civilians, friends and supporters of the Army, and our family members, should join AUSA.
After traveling to a myriad of posts, camps, stations and enclaves of soldiers across the country, I felt compelled to talk about the other questions that serve as the prequel and follow-up to: "Why should I join?"
So let’s ask the questions: "What do you know about the Association of the United States Army?" and "What’s in it for me?"
As leaders, we have an obligation to ensure our soldiers and leaders have an awareness and understanding of all programs that benefit them and their families.
Organizations and activities such as the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), Army Emergency Relief, division and branch associations and the Association of the United States Army all impact soldiers and their families in different ways.
The decision to support any one of these programs or professional institutions is up to the individual.
Talking with senior leaders, I understand the uncomfortable feeling of standing in front of soldiers providing information on programs and institutions requiring donations or memberships for fear of creating a perception of expectations among subordinates.
I wrestled with this challenge as a first sergeant while feeling obligated to provide my soldiers with the knowledge and understanding of these programs throughout the year and ensuring they were given the opportunity to contribute based on their own individual preferences.
I further discovered addressing these programs in a company classroom or at a unit formation did little to provide a good understanding for young soldiers and leaders.
Also, given the time allotted, I was not able to provide due diligence or justice for the importance of the programs which ultimately resulted in low participation and perhaps missed opportunities for my soldiers.
I found the best method of getting information to young soldiers and leaders was through peer-to-peer communication.
Since the commander and I wanted all our officers and noncommissioned officers to have at least one additional duty, we established the programs officer and noncommissioned officer positions to solve our education and engagement challenges.
Throughout the year, when these programs or campaigns appeared on the calendar, along with the plethora of other tasks and missions, the programs officer and noncommissioned officer were the points of contact who received all the information and associated forms.
Peer-to-peer, these young leaders provided a briefing in their own words, tailored to the small unit or individuals they were addressing to teach the task and purpose of the programs, and provide the opportunity for their audience to participate.
I’ve learned over the years that additional duties provide young leaders the opportunity to do something different outside their principle occupational specialty, and also affords these young leaders to learn about other subjects.
Programs that are meaningful and support soldiers and their families are sometimes best discovered and learned from the bottom up.
So asking the question: "What do you know about the Association of the United States Army?" is sometimes easier from an information sharing perspective, when it is shared peer-to-peer.
So the follow-up question: "What’s in it for me?" depends on what is important to you.
If it’s being part of an association that serves as the voice of the Army to the American public and members of Congress through its support of the Army across all components for manning, equipping, training and sustaining, AUSA is important to you.
If it’s keeping yourself current on policy and doctrinal changes, and understanding why they change, AUSA is important to you.
If it’s supporting fellow soldiers, retired soldiers, veterans, Army civilians, surviving spouses and all the families through recognition and volunteer activities centered in more than 119 chapters worldwide, AUSA is important to you.
If it’s staying current with Army leadership decisions and the subsequent impacts on installations, units and organizations throughout the force, AUSA is important to you.
If you want to seek-out, network and build relationships with other young professionals wanting to further their Army careers and their future, AUSA is important to you.
The truth is there are a thousand answers to the question: "What’s in it for me?"
The question now is: "Have you checked out the latest information and updates from AUSA?"
The monthly ARMY Magazine and AUSA News provide young professionals everything they need to stay current and competitive in their rising careers.
The AUSA Institute of Land Warfare throughout the year provides the visionaries and strategists in our ranks with the food for thought and understanding in relation to all the tough challenges facing our Army.
The Firing Line Blog discussions found on our websuite, www.ausa.org, focus on current, real-world developments, issues and trends that impact all young leaders and their soldiers.
These online discussions become an important part of junior leader development through shared experiences, successes and failures in living the Army mission every day.
If you enjoy any of the aspects of "what’s in it for me?" as you learn about AUSA, then you need to be part of the team and a member of the Army’s professional association.
There is no substitute for the knowledge and wisdom gained through experience and when you are a young up-and-coming Army professional, associating with other members of your profession who have lived the Army life provides you an opportunity to bolster your portfolio.
Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA, and AUSA needs your membership support.
Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.
Keep America’s Army Strong!
Take a Stand!
Still Serving, Still Saluting!
NCO and Soldier Programs
Sergeant Major of the Army
Kenneth O. Preston, USA, Ret.
Director, Noncommissioned Officer
and Soldier Programs