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AFSA deputy director briefs Goodfellow on how association makes a difference

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Retired Chief Master Sgt. James Lokovic, deputy executive director and director of military and government relations for the Air Force Sergeants Association, visited Goodfellow last week. 

Mr. Lokovic's primary reason for the visit was to brief servicemembers on the status of legislative issues and bills supported by the Air Force Sergeants' Association, a private incorporated association that exists to work with Congress and the Air Force to help improve quality of life programs for Airmen, particularly the enlisted force. He took the time to answer a few interview questions after giving four separate legislative briefings to various student and permanentparty servicemembers at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy and the base theater. 

As the director of military and government relations the government part of Mr. Lokovic's duty is to manage the legislative program for AFSA. 

"There are times when the Air Force wants to change things and they can't get things done. You have to keep in mind that military members can't lobby Congress. They can't do the things that I can," said Mr. Lokovic, who is the primary AFSA liaison to the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. 

"Our job is to communicate with Congress on what programs need to be enhanced and protected. We are sort of a watch dog. We keep an eye on things and make sure Congress knows what they need to do. There are times we are waving the flag for the Air Force and making things happen," said Mr. Lokovic. 

"So what I do at this time of year is visit bases and speak to various groups and relay their thoughts and concerns to the members of the association and Congress," he said. 

Mr. Lokovic gave a recent example of how briefings like the ones he gave on Goodfellow have paid off. 

"Last year when I was doing a briefing, a female tech sergeant mentioned that when a woman gives birth in the military she gets maternity leave to bond with the child and to physically recover, and she said 'wouldn't it be nice if we had something similar for adoptions,' " he recalled. 

"We took that to Congress and it was signed into law. And you now have a new benefit--21 days of adoption leave per year should you adopt a child," said Mr. Lokovic. 

According to Mr. Lokovic, AFSA is currently lobbying congress to pass a bill that would allow servicemembers to transfer funds of their Montgomery G.I. Bill benefit to family members. 

AFSA is also working on bills that would introduce and enhance the process of programs that deal with the transition from military to civilian life, particularly issues concerning veterans who return from war amputated and disabled. 

"The protection and improvement of your dormitories, your housing, your education and how your family is taken care of, should something happen to you, are things the association and I are concerned with," said Mr. Lokovic. 

Mr. Lokovic made one thing very clear, although the Air Force Sergeants Association is unique in that it is a single service association that focuses on enlisted quality of life issues for the Air Force, when we get new benefits pushed through they are implemented generally across the board for all services. 

The Air Force Association has a local chapter for servicemembers interested in joining the military professional organization. The local chapter meets the third Thursday of every month at 3:30 p.m. in the Stripes Lounge inside that Goodfellow Club. 

For more information or to sign up for membership, contact Staff Sgt. Kara Glover at 654-3448 or kara.glover@goodfellow.af.mil.