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NEWS | Feb. 11, 2009

AFSA stands tall for Airmen, families behind stripes

By Airman 1st Class Melissa White 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Editor's note: This is the second in a three-part series about Air Force organizations that advocate for Airmen, retirees and their families.

Is there anything in the Air Force dedicated solely to Airmen of the enlisted force?

The Air Force Sergeant Association is an enlisted organization available and dedicated to all enlisted Airmen whether they are active-duty, retired, veterans, Reservists, members of the Air National Guard or their family members.

Thriving with a current membership of more than 500 people, AFSA Chapter 306 president Master Sgt. Beth Dickens says, "The more people we have as members of AFSA, the louder they can hear our voice."

AFSA is a non-profit, international organization with more than 130,000 combined from all chapters and divisions. AFSA fills the role of being the "Voice of the Enlisted" by having lobbyists speak for all enlisted Airmen on Capitol Hill. They advocate for improvements to financial benefits and quality-of-life-standards for members. Areas AFSA lobbyists have already been successful in are advocating for increased pay and benefits for low-ranking Airmen as well as an expansion to health benefits. Whether they are members of AFSA or not, Airmen can still benefit from these efforts and from scholarships and grants they provide to Airmen and their family members.

When it comes to the local community, AFSA encourages Airmen and its members to give back. Every quarter, AFSA Chapter 306 takes part in the Adopt-A-Highway Program. They also participate in Habitat for Humanity and present awards at local Junior ROTC ceremonies as well as sponsor the John L. Levitow Award at Airman Leadership School graduations.

"We do a lot here as a local chapter and part of our responsibility is to give back," said Sergeant Dickens who is also the 437th Force Support Squadron ALS commandant. "It doesn't matter whether you're part of the First 6, Top 3, Chiefs' Group or any other professional organization, it's important to get involved in something early. Especially for Airman, AFSA only costs $18 for 18 months, and there aren't many things you can buy for $18 to last 18 months in these economic times."

Sergeant Dickens also reminds fellow NCOs of Air Force Instruction, NCO Responsibilities, 4.1.10, "Promote organizational esprit de corps and foster good community relations by supporting professional organizations as well as unit, base and Air Force events. Also, encourage subordinates to do the same."

"It has to start from the top, and we're lucky to have the wonderful support of our command chief who has come to all of our meetings so far and helps us get the word out about AFSA," said Sergeant Dickens.

AFSA Chapter 306 meets the second Tuesday of every month at 3 p.m. in the Charleston Club. Anyone interested in joining or learning more about AFSA is encouraged to attend.

In addition to their monthly meetings, the chapter is also responsible for hosting this year's AFSA 32nd Annual Division 3 and 4 Convention and Professional Airmen's Conference March 19-21. Events at the convention will include guest speaker former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Gerald Murray, a banquet and several other activities. Members can register for the event and Airmen interested in AFSA can also join the festivities.

For more information on AFSA or to join, visit their Web site at or contact Sergeant Dickens at 963-4074.