Participate and Support Professional Organizations

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Daniel P. Coppinger
  • Conn. State Command Chief

This year, the Air Force updated and released Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure; widely known to all Airmen as "The Little Brown Book." The instruction, which is available in pocket size, defines the Air Force enlisted force structure and establishes leadership and total force development levels and responsibilities. It spells out what is expected of every enlisted Airman E-1 through E-9.

AFI 36-2618 states under Junior Enlisted Airman Responsibilities that, "Junior enlisted Airmen must join professional organizations (for example, base advisory and enlisted councils) and participate in organization and community events through volunteerism."  The instruction also states the responsibilities of NCO's.  "NCO's will...Promote organizational esprit de corps and foster good community relations by actively participating in and supporting professional organizations as well as unit, base and Air Force events.  Also encourage subordinates to do the same."

Regardless in what military branch you serve, "actively participating in and supporting professional organizations" is a "Purple concept."  Whether it is written in an instruction or regulation or an unwritten policy, active participation and support in these organizations is a part of our job.  If we are not active in this support then we are not doing our job.  The majority of our enlisted force in Conn. needs to do much better.  There is too much at stake.

Take, for example, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), one of the largest professional organizations supporting the National Guard at the national level.  There are approximately 402,300 enlisted Army and Air Force troops in the National Guard.  Of these Guardsmen, 38,125 are members of EANGUS, approximately 10 percent of our enlisted National Guard force.  Only ten percent?

There are hundreds of other professional organizations of which our Soldiers and Airmen can be a part and many of these are available at our state level.  Within the state of Conn., there are approximately 3,900 enlisted Army and Air National Guard troops. Less than 15 percent of all 3,900 enlisted Connecticut National Guardsman belong to a professional organization. This percentage includes unit advisory and enlisted councils and organizations such as EANGUS, National Guard Association of Connecticut (NGACT), Non-Commissioned Officer Academy Graduate Association (NCOAGA) and other service specific organizations.  The National Guard Association of Connecticut (NGACT), for example, a "root" of EANGUS, has a current membership of approximately 115 Conn. enlisted troops out of an available 3,900.  That is less than 3 percent of our state's total enlisted force.  One more time, there is too much at stake to accept this void in our duty to our Soldiers, Airmen, and ourselves.  We, the enlisted force of Conn., Army and Air, have the ability to shape legislation, increase our own benefits and transform our own future. Currently, a very few are fighting the benefit battle and promoting esprit de corps for the many. 

If you are an active member of a professional organization, reach out to at least one other troop that is not active and invite them to a meeting, conference, Dining-In, etc. If everyone consistently does this, (i.e. AFI 36-2618 "...also encourage subordinates to do the same"), our strength in numbers will explode.  Our leverage and esprit de corps will increase exponentially.  This is our job.  This is our duty to our Soldiers and Airmen. 

Last month, the Air National Guard hosted the SNCO/CPO Dining-In at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.  The Air Guard had its best turnout in six years, doubling its attendance from the year prior. The event raised almost $4000 for our Junior Enlisted Joint Combat Dining-In fund.  Fantastic job!  I would like to thank all of our Air Guard SNCOs and distinguished guests for taking an active roll in supporting this annual event and making this year a huge success.  Let's keep up this tradition and double our numbers for next year.