The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you have come. That’s how I feel about our great Airlift/Tanker Association. We are rapidly closing in on the October Convention in Nashville with everything coming together nicely. That is great news, but what really stands out when you look back is how much progress has been made to our Association over the last couple of years.
Let me tell you what I mean. It wasn’t long ago that we laid out some goals for ourselves. For a short period, it seemed like we might never achieve them. We wanted to modernize our processes and move to what our past Chairman, General Walter Kross, referred to as “A/TA 2.0.” It meant changing our internal processes to improve our website, improve our convention planning and increase our interface with social media. We saw all of this as crucial to making A/TA more effective in achieving our goals: Supporting Mobility Airmen, Preserving Our Culture, and Strengthening Our Bonds.
Although progress is never as fast as you would like, we have made tremendous strides to improve and reinvent ourselves. We have changed how we administer the organization and how our website looks. It not only looks 100% better, it works 100% better. It makes it very easy for new members to join and it will be much easier to register for this year’s convention. Additionally, people can quickly and efficiently make donations to our scholarship fund. These are just a few of the enhancements we have wanted to do for years and now they are just about completed.
We are doing a much better job of telling our story each and every day by using significantly improved social media tools. This helps us help our Mobility Airmen. But our work is not done…we can still do better. We just held our spring board meeting at MacDill AFB hosted by the Tony Janus Chapter. Working and talking with the local Airmen showed us we still have a way to go to get our organization better known across the Total Force. We spoke with Airmen who did not know about the organization and that they were eligible to join.
That’s why we have started an initiative aimed at hearing from all of you regarding the idea of changing the name of the Association from Airlift/Tanker Association to something else. Does our name properly reflect the population of eligible members? Is our name holding us back? We heard that some people see the Airlift/Tanker Association and think you have to be a crewmember to join…. or maybe that it is even just for officers. Both those ideas are wrong. We are open for everyone…all AFSCs, ranks, Active, Guard, Reserve, civilians, industry partners and local people from all the communities that surround our bases. We are asking for everyone’s feedback on our name and whether we should change it. On the other side of the coin, our name is known throughout our Air Force. Maybe we need to keep the name, but do a better job of broadcasting our very inclusive membership policy. We want anybody who makes the “mobility machine” move to be a member. (Check out our website or the Spring Edition of the Airlift/Tanker Quarterly magazine for more info and how to respond).
In order to achieve this goal we have undertaken an initiative to increase our membership. We have asked all the local chapters to be involved in recruiting new folks. The local chapters are where it will be most successful. The more the chapter is involved around the base, the more people know about it, and the more members they have. Win-win-win! I have challenged every member to go out and find three new members this year. There will be a cash reward for the top recruiting chapters. We are also offering a new reduced price membership to all Airmen in the ranks of E-1 thru E-4.
We need to sign up new members in order to keep our organization vibrant and thriving. If we are successful we can continue to do things to Support Mobility Airmen like offering a classy convention, providing opportunities for Enlisted Education Grants as well as scholarships for many ROTC students.
In turn, this allows us to Preserve our Culture by translating the lessons learned from Airmen who went before us into future air mobility success stories. And all importantly, a successful association permits us to cement and strengthen our relationships with everyone who makes our mobility machine so successful while executing Air Force missions.
So I ask for your help. I ask you to step back and look at how A/TA is doing. I think we have come a long way, but I need you -the members – to give us the feedback to make A/TA a world-class organization well into the future. We want to Strengthen our Bonds by recognizing and recruiting members from every career specialty who contribute to the daily air mobility success story. We are approaching the 50th Anniversary of the Association to be celebrated in Dallas in 2018. We want you to be a part of it and we want our Association to remain vigorous and relevant well into the future. We cannot do it without you. I look forward to hearing from you.
See you in Nashville!