More than 1,300 U.S. Air Force enlisted airmen gathered in Jacksonville, Fla., to kick off the 2012 Air Force Sergeants Association Convention and Professional Airman Conference, Aug. 12.
The convention is held annually, and is comprised of a number of smaller conferences and meetings, all sponsored by AFSA. This year’s convention takes place from Aug. 11 to 16.
“This is going to be a great week,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy. “You know, AFSA has been at this for a lot of years now. Fifty-one years as a veterans’ service organization and the responsibility that comes along with that title. We’re certainly honored to be a part of that. That is our organization, this is our organization. And as I look out over the group, I see over a thousand people out here today. Thank you for participating in this.”
AFSA is a federally chartered, non-profit organization that works closely with the White House staff and the Department of Veterans Affairs. AFSA represents the professional and personal interests of all airmen and their families.
“AFSA was started by four individuals on May 3, 1961. Our focus is on the voice of the enlisted force,” said Jeff Ledoux, AFSA international president. “We work toward the quality of life of all enlisted. We protect benefits, by legislative means and educating lawmakers. We work to improve and maintain the quality of life of the enlisted, things like TRICARE, education and retirement, anything that has to do with quality of life.”
In addition to actively working to maintain and enhance the benefits of all Airmen, AFSA also supports 55 Fisher Houses and 141 state veterans’ homes. Fisher Houses, usually located near major military and Veterans Affairs medical centers, provide free housing to families of wounded service members while they receive treatment.
“We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us,” said the Air Force’s highest ranking enlisted leader.
Roy also revealed during the opening remarks that the new Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III is scheduled to speak at the convention later in the week.
“If you don’t know this, this will be his first TDY as the new chief of staff of the Air Force,” Roy said. “That’s a big deal. What is he doing? He is coming all the way down here to talk to us, the enlisted corps of this great United States Air Force.
Throughout the week, airmen will have the opportunity to attend conference sessions regarding benefits such as education, retirement benefits and leadership skills.