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Looking Out For Our Future

Chief Master Sgt. Vic Guerra has served as the wing commad chief of the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh since January 2007. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Ann Young)

Chief Master Sgt. Vic Guerra has served as the wing commad chief of the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh since January 2007. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Ann Young)

FT. INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa -- The holidays are often a time of reflection, and I can think of no better time than now to reflect on the future of the National Guard and how we might be able to affect that future.

With Congress wrestling with the budget and the economy, budget cuts are inevitable, which will include military spending. We all have a voice, through our legislators, as to how we feel these cuts should be accomplished. Our individual voices can be made louder and more powerful through Professional Military Organizations (PMOs).

What are PMOs? 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 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)); the national parent organizations of PNGEA and NGAPA, 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 come to mind.

The general goals of many of these organizations are to maintain a strong national defense; maintaining compensation and benefits as sufficient levels; represent the interests of military personnel, and their families and survivors; respond to assaults upon the compensation and benefits earned by military members; and educating the public on the demands and sacrifices associated with serving in our military, and the need to maintain a system of compensation and benefits in order to attract and retain personnel to meet the Nation's defense requirements, both today and in the future.

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 specific interests and goals of Pennsylvania National Guardsmen (both Air and Army) at heart, as do EANGUS and NGAUS only at a national level. You can also see how the other PMOs would represent their membership's specific goals and interests as well.

If you're not already a member of one of these organizations, I highly encourage you to join one or more of the Professional Military Organizations that echoes and/or embodies your personal ideals, interests and goals. These organizations battle for us in the halls of Congress where the decisions are made that affect our future and the future of our families, and their power and influence comes from the number of members they represent. After all, we need to be looking out for our (and our family's) future.