AFSA: Airmen helping Airmen

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brenton Keay
  • Air Force Sergeants Association Chapter 1156
I'm sure many of you have heard of the Air Force Sergeants Association, or AFSA, and probably wondered, "what is that all about?" AFSA is a non-profit organization solely dedicated to representing enlisted active-duty members, retirees, veterans and their families. In a nut shell, we are Airmen for Airmen.

When AFSA speaks, Washington listens. It's more than just maintaining your existing allowances; it's also about contributing to the discussion in a way that lawmakers better understand your needs. In fact, because of our reputation, AFSA has a dedicated seat at the influential tables in Congress and the Pentagon. They help shape the tough policy decisions affecting the enlisted corps today.

Chapter 1156 represents Malmstrom Air Force Base and Great Falls, Mont. AFSA does more than just voice our concerns on Capitol Hill. Our group also engages and supports the local community on many levels. Various charitable contributions and volunteer services allow this chapter to reach out and serve the local populous. Events such as the AFSA food/clothing drive donate thousands of pounds of non-perishable food and winter garments to the city's homeless shelters annually. Chapter 1156 also covers and maintains a two-mile stretch of Montana highway through partnership with the Adopt-A-Highway program. Come and join us - help our cause and become a member of this amazing organization.

So just how successful are the folks who represent AFSA? Listed below are the legislative accomplishments of 2013:

Active duty
·Enactment of the Pay Our Military Act, a measure promising full pay and allowances to service members during a government shutdown
·Extension of more than 30 bonuses/special pays and temporary early retirement authority
·Blocked base realignment and closure, or BRAC, style commission to propose military retirement changes
·Further extensions of authority to provide temporary increases in basic allowance for housing for areas impacted by natural disasters or experiencing a sudden influx of personnel
·Statutory protection of individual expressions of religious or moral beliefs
· Enlisted tuition assistance reinstated

Health Care
·Blocked enrollment fee proposals on TRICARE for Life and TRICARE Standard
·Prevented means-testing proposal for TRICARE Prime and TRICARE for Life
·Prevented additional TRICARE pharmacy co-pay increases
·Secured a one-time election to re-enroll in TRICARE Prime for certain beneficiaries who were no longer eligible as of October 1, 2013
·Prevented 24 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE reimbursement payments to doctors

·Blocked use of the Chained-Consumer Price Index to determine cost of overseas living allowance; ensuring full CPI - increase of 1.5 percent for affected groups
·Department of Defense payments of death gratuity and burial benefits to the families of people who died on active duty despite the government shutdown; retroactive to Oct 1, 2013
·Transitional Assistance Management Program eligibility enhancements for behavioral health support for wounded warriors via telemental health
·Established authority for health registries for service members, families and veterans exposed to toxic substances on military camps, posts and stations
·Created financial penalties for fraudulent use of unauthorized military awards and/or decorations for personal gain (Stolen Valor Act)
·Extended tax credits to December 31, 2013, for employers who hired recent veterans, including unemployed/disabled and Guard and Reserve veterans
·Restoration approval of former Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, by the American Battle Monuments Commission and bi-national memorandum of understanding to move forward
·Statutory authority for members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans to render the military salute during recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance
·$67.8 million for the Armed Forces Retirement Home

·Reduced the list of states not participating in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children down to four
·$30 million in Impact Aid to school districts with high numbers of military children
·Improved assistance for Gold Star spouses and other dependents

As you can see, the accomplishments achieved just last year are numerous and cherished by all of us. Just like any other organization, there is strength in numbers. When it comes to voicing enlisted concerns in Washington, members equal numbers. The more members we have, the stronger our voice is. AFSA Chapter 1156 currently has more than 600 members, but we are seeking to make our team larger.

To keep updated on events and news for our AFSA chapter, our Facebook link is or just type "Malmstrom AFSA" in the search box on Facebook. Meetings are at 11 a.m. on the 4th Wednesday of every month at Aces High Bowling Center.