From the Chief: Let's Meet
For some, August means long days by the beach or the lake or soaking up the last bit of summer before the return to routine schedules and shorter days. For me, however, August means one thing: National Guard association conference season. Both EANGUS and NGAUS host their annual conferences in August, and I look forward to seeing many of you there.
Military associations and other nonfederal entities like NGAUS, EANGUS, the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), Air & Space Forces Association (AFA) and Reserve Organization of America Officers Association (ROA) are an important part of the holistic defense enterprise.
When we spend time with our fellow service members and their families, and those who came before us, we strengthen our culture.
NFEs help communicate what’s important in our organizations and to their members. They amplify our most critical issues on Capitol Hill, raise awareness of the National Guard’s priorities with the public and keep our soldiers, airmen and their families apprised of topics and trends that impact their lives and service.
But what I think is even more important are the professional development opportunities these NFEs offer to those who participate in their annual conferences.
Every year, during the conferences, the NFEs provide a unique opportunity for our Guardsmen to come together and learn from each other, our senior military leadership and industry. It is one of the few times we have a chance to connect across all 54 states and territories, meet other members across ranks and across specializations and strengthen our profession and our bond.
At NFE conferences, our soldiers and airmen have the chance to hear directly from Defense Department leadership about the state of our armed forces and the outlook for the future. You can hear firsthand what’s on their minds, rather than reading it in an article or in a memo. You get a better sense of how policy and benefits are shaped and enacted, as well as the opportunity to socialize with the people behind those actions and ask questions of our senior military leaders.
But it’s not only DoD leadership who are on hand; NFE conferences provide the chance for our Guardsmen to interact directly with industry representatives. They want to hear from you: what’s working, what’s not and what our Guardsmen need to complete their missions.
Our Guardsmen aren’t the only ones who can benefit from these opportunities to come together. Spouses are an important part of our team, and NFE conferences allow them to better connect with other members of our military family. The fact is, it can be hard to be a spouse in the National Guard, where you might not know or live near other National Guard families. At NFE conferences, spouses have the chance to connect with new people who understand the joys and challenges of being a military spouse and reconnect with friends from previous years.
Conferences also provide education and enrichment opportunities for spouses, building their understanding of the key issues in our profession.
These conferences also provide an important link across time. Retired soldiers and airmen are a valuable part of our National Guard family; they provide insight, mentorship and expertise. Engaging with NFEs helps maintain their connection to military service and ultimately helps us cultivate the next generation of leaders.
NFEs help us strengthen our institution, our culture and our people. When we work together to communicate our objectives and achieve our goals, we strengthen our institution. When we spend time with our fellow service members and their families, and those who came before us, we strengthen our culture. When we dedicate ourselves to learning more about our profession of arms and continuing our personal military education, we strengthen our people.
As summer winds down, I hope you have the chance to take advantage of the opportunities offered by our NFE partners. The interaction between our members, senior leaders, NFEs and industry helps ensure we remain Always Ready, Always There.
The author is the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.