The Enlisted Force Structure states it’s an Airman’s responsibility to join a professional organization. For Airmen looking for an organization to join, the Air Force Sergeants Association may be right for some.
AFSA’s purpose is to represent the professional and personal interests of active-duty personnel, retired veterans and their families.
“The AFSA is a professional military organization and our primary purpose is to provide benefits and services for enlisted folks,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Geno Piccoli, AFSA Chapter 1260 treasurer. “We have five registered lobbyists on Capitol Hill who are talking to congressmen and senators all the time, and all five of them are retired Air Force senior NCOs.”
The AFSA works with leaders in Washington, D.C., and in the Air Force to enhance and maintain the interests of Airmen.
The AFSA is directly involved with the Exceptional Family Member Program, a program that works with military families who have members with special needs. It provides housing, educational, medical services and specialized services for military families.
At Luke Air Force Base, the organization works with local leaders to solve issues directly affecting Airmen and recognize their accomplishments.
“We are involved in legislative areas to support the headquarters and local legislature,” Piccoli said. “We are partners with Unified Arizona Veterans and the North Valley Veterans Association. We are also involved in many programs on base, such as annual and quarterly awards, and we sponsor the Academic achievement award at the Airman Leadership School class graduation.”
Each year the AFSA sponsors the Air Force Pitsenberger Award, First Sergeant of the Year, Recruiters of the Year from each of the Defense Department components, Civil Air Patrol NCO Cadet of the Year and the Air Force Junior Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet of the Year.
The AFSA has more than 100,000 members. This total includes Air Force active-duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, veterans, retirees and families. The body is governed by an executive council of 11 elected members with seven geographical divisions.
“We currently have 113,000 members within the association,” Piccoli said. “When you go on Capitol Hill, numbers make a difference. We are well respected both on Capitol Hill and in the Department of Defense.”
All ranks and grades are eligible for membership, and many benefits come with joining.
The list of benefits includes affordable health, property and automotive insurance plans, college saving plans, discounts on travel and hotel rates, magazine and newspaper subscription discounts, and college tuition discounts.
As a congressional charter, the AFSA works closely with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass legislation to improve the lives of Airmen and their families.
Legislative accomplishments in 2013 include the enactment of the Pay Our Military Act, a measure promising full pay and allowances to service members during a government shutdown, blocked enrollment fee proposals on TRICARE for Life and TRICARE Standard, and $30 million in aid to school districts with high numbers of military children.
“We were the first and only professional association that took on the tuition assistance issue and started a letter-writing campaign,” Piccoli said. “Out of the 120,000 emails sent to Congress, 24,000 were from our members.”
For more than 40 years, the AFSA has been a vocal force for military members and their families.
“AFSA gives me a chance to interact with service members and have a say in what’s going on in congress and the government, said Master Sgt. Jason Munn, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron vehicle control NCO and AFSA Chapter 12 treasurer. “It gives me a voice.”