AFSA: Speaking for the people behind the stripes

Members of the local Air Force Sergeants Association, Chapter 1066, take part in the annual Veterans’ Day Parade in downtown San Angelo in 2005. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez)

Members of the local Air Force Sergeants Association, Chapter 1066, take part in the annual Veterans’ Day Parade in downtown San Angelo in 2005. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Force enlisted members have options when it comes to having their voices and concerns being heard; the Air Force Sergeants Association is one of those options. 

"We (the Air Force Sergeants Association) are an international organization dedicated to speaking out on behalf of the people behind the stripes," said Master Sgt. Mark Brown, president of the Air Force Sergeants Association Chapter 1066, here on Goodfellow AFB. 
"AFSA has led the way on both Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon and has earned the recognition and respect of Washington's leaders for its sustained role as the "Voice of the Enlisted'." 

AFSA currently has approximately 130,000 members. Its mission, at the headquarters level, is to advocate improved quality-of-life and economic fairness that will support the well-being of Air Force enlisted personnel and their families. 

"On a service-wide level our organization looks for ways to protect and improve things like the dormitories our tech school students live in here at Goodfellow. Active military members are not permitted to lobby at Washington, but thanks to organizations like AFSA our views and voices are heard on Capitol Hill," said Sergeant Brown. 

"Our leadership has a system on which they can rely on to get things going when they have their hands tied. When it comes to improving and protecting military benefits such as military housing, education, pay raises and health care, AFSA is there, at the forefront, speaking for all Air Force enlisted members; past, present and future," he added. 

The following are some of the benefits AFSA has helped push through at Congress:
- Implementation of the National Mail Order Pharmacy program.
- Appropriation/Authorization of "Impact Aid" funding for local school districts educating the children of military families.

Although AFSA specifically lobbies for the Air Force enlisted force, Master Sgt. Brown said another great thing about the association is that when new benefits are pushed through, such benefits are implemented generally across the board for all services.

"In addition to co-sponsoring the NCO Academy John Levitow award for each graduating class, our chapter and its members continue to make contributions to Goodfellow and our surrounding communities," said Sergeant Brown.

The AFSA and its members regularly volunteer to help out with local community projects such as clean ups and patriotic activities such as the annual Veterans' Day parade and the annual wreath laying at the Memorial Day celebration downtown.

Chapter 1066 is currently working with another local chapter of a fellow military-professional organization on raising funds for bringing to San Angelo the traveling Vietnam Wall, a replica of the actual Vietnam Wall, but smaller in size that travels to various communities around the nation.

"Our membership is made up of both active duty and retired military. We have Senior NCOs, NCOs and junior enlisted. Our wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Paul Moreau, is also a member," Sergeant Brown said.

"We currently have a, small but solid membership here. However we know we can do better with more."

"That's why we highly encourage others to join and be a part of our proud and wonderful organization. Joining AFSA is another way a person can ensure we continue to take care of our own," Sergeant Brown concluded.

The local chapter meets the third Thursday of every month at 4 p.m. in the Stripes Lounge inside the Goodfellow Event Center.

For additional information, please contact one of the following AFSA officers: 

President - Master Sgt. Mark Brown at 654-5521
Vice president - Master Sgt. Angela Schultz at 654-3984
Secretary - Master Sgt. Thomas DeSantis at 654-3411
Treasurer - Master Sgt. Russell Pember at 654-3157