Civilian aides to the secretary of the Army, or CASAs, may come from different backgrounds, live in different areas, and have different beliefs, but there is one similarity among them all – they put the military Family first.
Formally recognized in 1922, CASAs have become an important tool to the Army and its leaders. Throughout the state, they stay involved with the communities, acting as the liaison between the Army and the public.
Arizona’s only CASA, Dr. Randy Groth, just completed his 10th year as a civilian aide. He was first appointed by former Secretary of the Army Thomas White, in 2003.
“I attend all of the Army functions that I can, give speeches to the members of the community throughout the state talking about our military, our Soldiers, their Families, post traumatic stress disorder, problems that the Soldiers are having, and so on. [I do so] with the idea of keeping the public informed in terms of the Army and what is happening, and getting their feedback,” he said.
According to Army regulation 1-15, the official duties of a CASA consist of: providing advice to the secretary of the Army, the Army chief of staff and commanders at all levels on public sentiments toward the Army; disseminating Army-related information to the public through means such as speeches and personal contact; and providing advice concerning the development of programs and methods to attain maximum understanding and cooperation between the civilian community and the Army.
Appointed by the secretary of the Army, each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have at least one CASA. Some areas may have more than one CASA depending on the military enterprise.
The term of an aide is two years and then they are reappointed, for a maximum of 10 years. Then, recognized as a senior aide, a CASA can retain their appointment for six more years, gaining the status of CASA Emeritus. Once they reach this level, the CASA will retain his or her appointment for life, assisting and training junior CASAs.
Many factors affect the determination of an aide candidate. Due to the nature of the job, having an outstanding character, strong integrity and patriotism is a must. One must also have a great interest in military affairs, and be able to interpret and affect the public attitude toward the Army.
When asked what attributes an aide candidate should possess, Groth said, “I think it’s individuals who have a genuine desire, love and appreciation for our military that not only can say that, but have a history of doing things in support of that.”
Groth explained that CASAs have to have the financial ability to maintain this role. Civilian aides do not receive any compensation for their efforts; however, official travel and transportation expenses are often reimbursed with prior approval from the Office of the Secretary of the Army.
“There are times that I go to Washington and it is funded by the secretary and there are times that I go to Washington and pay for it myself,” he said.
On a quarterly basis, civilian aides submit a significant activities report to the secretary of the Army. Information within the report includes community concerns and perceptions, the previous quarter’s contributions, community feedback and future goals.
“In these reports, I have to define what I have done, where I went, how I did it, who the audience was, [and] what was the good and bad news out there. Getting to all the functions that I can allows me to gather that information,” Groth said.
The job is time consuming, emotional at times, and can be stressful without monetary reward, but the CASAs aren’t in their position for the money.
“The best part of being a CASA is telling the Army story and helping the Families and Soldiers. That is definitely the best part.”
To date, more than 500 individuals have served the Army and the nation as a CASA. For more information about the CASA program, call Groth, 520.227.7597.