The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost everybody and everything, sometimes in ways that aren’t so obvious.
I wrote two weeks ago in this space about the challenges the NGAUS staff has working from home. I’m sure many of you could relate. Collaborating is more difficult via phone than it is in person. So is advocacy on Capitol Hill.
But a bigger problem is where we stand with membership.
2020 had been shaping up as one of our best membership years in a while. In early March, we were roughly 1,300 members ahead of our 2019 pace. Then came the coronavirus lockdown, and the flow of membership renewals slowed to trickle. Now we’re 1,700 short of last year.
Our concern is more about membership numbers than it is membership dollars. It’s those numbers that provide us the mandate we need to speak for the National Guard.
I’m sure many of you were planning to renew your memberships. I know COVID-19 has altered a lot of plans. Perhaps you’re part of the response. Maybe you’re among the many who are struggling with this new abnormal and you just need a reminder.
Consider this a reminder: We need you back. NGAUS has a growing to-do list on Capitol Hill and we need lawmakers to know you’re behind us.
We had to fight to get federal Title 32 orders for most Guard soldiers and airmen on coronavirus duty. Our association was also a big part of the push to ensure they have TRICARE medical care. Many, but not all do. Now we need to make sure they have transitional coverage when they come off the front lines.
And because mobilizing and protecting our force under Title 32 has been so difficult, NGAUS and the governors need to work with Congress to streamline the process. We can’t afford a repeat the next time there is a major domestic disaster.
Also on our near-term radar are the continuing deliberations on the fiscal 2021 defense policy and appropriations legislation. COVID-19 has eclipsed everything else on Capitol Hill the last two months, but our objectives every year focus on those two annual defense bills.
Our agenda this year aims to continue the progress we’ve made on equipment and benefit parity. We also need to win back some of the modernization funds we lost in February due to Pentagon reprogramming.
But the pandemic makes this harder. Congress has already approved nearly $3 trillion in economic stimulus. Meanwhile, tax revenue will likely be down in fiscal 2021. There are growing concerns that all of this could force cuts to defense spending.
This is not a good time for the appearance of a drop in membership support for NGAUS. I know that’s not actually the case, but appearance is reality for some.
Help us help you, your family, your soldiers and airmen, and the National Guard. If you can afford it in these uncertain times, please take a moment and contact your state or territory association to renew your membership for 2020.
The Join or Renew button at the top of this page is also a good place to start. Thank you.
I invite your questions and comments via [email protected]