Strength in Numbers

May 2013 -- From time to time, you may have heard me or others talk about Professional Military Organizations (PMOs). What are PMOs and why should you belong? PMOs are formed to recognize and represent groups of individuals, and their ideals, interests and goals. They often spur camaraderie and esprit de corps, and frequently provide lobbyists for military legislation. Some of the Air National Guard/Air Force related PMOs are the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations (PNGAS) (www.pngas.net), which is made up of the Pennsylvania National Guard Enlisted Association (PNGEA) and the National Guard Association of Pennsylvania (NGAPA) (for officers), and their national parent organizations the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) (www.eangus.org) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) (www.ngaus.org); the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA) (www.hqafsa.org), and the Air Force Association (AFA) (www.afa.org). There are others related to all branches of the military such as American Veterans (AMVETS) (www.amvets.org) and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) (www.vfw.org). This is by no means a complete list as there are numerous PMOs out there. These are just a few that readily come to mind.

The general goals of many of these PMOs are:
- Maintaining a strong national defense by recruiting and retaining skilled and highly capable personnel;
- Maintaining compensation and benefits at sufficient levels to attract and retain personnel for careers in service to the Nation;
- Represent the interests of military personnel, and their families and survivors, and respond to assaults upon the compensation and benefits earned by military members through years of dedicated service, and
- Educating the public on the extraordinary demands and sacrifices associated with a career in uniformed service, and the need to maintain a system of compensation and benefits to attract and retain the kinds and numbers of high-quality personnel needed to meet the Nation's defense requirements, both today and in the future.

The more specific goals of the various PMOs differ depending on the membership the organization represents. For instance, in addition to the general goals I just mentioned, PNGAS has the interests and goals of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen (both Air and Army) at heart (such as the restoration of the exemption of all active duty pay from local earned income taxes); as do EANGUS and NGAUS, only on a national level. You can also see how the other PMOs would represent their membership's specific goals and interests as well.

Whatever your personal interests, I encourage you to join one or more of the PMOs that echoes and/or embodies your personal ideals, interests and goals. When it comes to representing your best interests, there's strength in numbers.