By Kelly Fisher, Former President NGAC
No matter what your chosen military branch or occupational specialty, as a military professional you want to remain in the mainstream of your National Guard service. Of course, there are numerous ways that you could accomplish this – networking, military and professional journals, etc. However, one great way to accomplish this is by joining a professional association. The benefits of joining professional organizations are abundant, as we will discuss in this article. The National Guard Association of California (NGAC), since its inception in 1968, has realized the importance of professional organizations. One organization with which they developed a long-standing professional relationship is The National Guard Association of United States (NGAUS). NGAUS is committed to serving the needs and interests of National Guard members. These two organizations are focused on improving readiness, quality of life and benefits specifically for military members serving the National Guard through state and federal legislation; no other professional military association offers this. I personally have chosen to maintain affiliation with several professional military associations; however, I am actively engaged and involved with NGAC and NGAUS.
Other professional military organizations are available for almost any branch of service or specialty. Some include specific trade or specialty type associations like The Military Police Regimental Association (MPRA) or Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA). These types of organizations are specifically focused on a particular occupational specialty or trade. Thanks to ever-growing digital technologies, information abounds. However, sometimes sifting through the tons of information available can be overwhelming, not to mention time consuming. These types of associations can provide you access to journals, newsletters, and websites with invaluable information on up-to-date issues, networking opportunities and developments specific to your leadership level or occupational specialty.
On a more macro level there are other professional military organizations like Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) The Air Force Professional Association (AFPA) and/or The Air Force Association (AFA). These organizations offer you similar access to a multitude of resources and invaluable information on up-to-date issues and developments specific to the Army, Air Force, and/or the Military in general. As a California National Guard Soldier or Airman, the two most important military professional organizations to you, are the NGAC and NGAUS. These two organizations focus on improving readiness, quality of life, and benefits specifically for air and army members serving the National Guard through state and federal legislation.
Hundreds of thousands of military professionals have discovered just how rewarding membership can be in some professional military organization or another. Organizations like NGAUS have produced great results on Capitol Hill in recent years, thanks in large part to the grassroots support of local chapters and state association members. Improvements in military health care; increases in active duty, retired, and survivor benefit pay are a small sampling of recent legislative successes. NGAUS in particular is very successful in acquiring funding for fielding new equipment for critical units within the California National Guard (CNG).
When you join a local chapter and/or your state association, you will also add your voice to your state’s network working hard to pass both state and federal legislation- such as education benefits for California National Guard members. In addition, the more dues paying CNG members of NGAUS, the greater number of votes the CNG enjoys at The NGAUS annual meetings. With more members comes more influence in determining (among other things, priority of federal legislative efforts.
NGAUS is a national organization for officers. EANGUS is a national organization for enlisted Guard members. NGAC is a California Association for both officers and enlisted personnel. You may join while a junior enlisted member or commissioned officer, as a field grade and/or even as a retired officer. However, fees are greatly reduced for junior enlisted and officers who are just beginning their military career. In addition to providing information about the National Guard, this professional organization can enhance your professional development and provide many networking opportunities. This association can also provide monetary returns such as survivor benefits and tuition assistance through private scholarships.
Prospective employers seek out individuals whose field knowledge is not solely dependent on college studies; therefore, association memberships are excellent supplements for your resume. Memberships convey to an employer that you are dedicated to your field of study, while your savoir-faire during an interview will have you shining above other applicants. Your membership could also open doors of opportunity as you are provided with greater exposure to the job market attending conferences like NGAUS annual Conference gives you access to literally hundreds of corporate sponsors that do business with Department of Defense and the National Guard.
These Professional organizations are easy to find on the web. For more information, about NGAC and NGAUS go to http://www.ngac.org or contact Jim Lubey at 916-362-3411. Your, Battalion and/or Brigade commander can also provide you with resources for establishing a local NGAC chapter within your command.
Therefore, whether you are looking to become part of a community within your chosen branch of service, occupational branch, or you are searching for professional development to enhance your career opportunities, professional military organizations are most certainly the way to go!