Friends, Members and fellow Patriots:
The following document is a few months old but it speaks clearly to a need to find a way to connect our generation with today’s youth. Our chapter website is www.ncoarogue.org and is a good example of what our chapter is doing. Take a look at it and you will find a wide spectrum of activities that cross the full spectrum of age involvement. It donned on me that I had not shared our chapter website with most of our membership, so here it is.
Finding a way to connect, even in a small way, is important, not just for our organization, but for all. It is even important for families to improve communication. Cell phones have replaced talking and now people predominantly text instead of speak to each other. This process is placing a roadblock into simple communication. The fact that texting may be quicker, we cannot lose sight of the value of having a conversation with our families or our younger generation.
I am hopeful that you will do more than read this email and the attached document. I am hopeful that you will think about it and share your ideas with me. Let’s start a conversation!
Strength in Unity & Leadership By Example
Terry M. Haines
Chairman, Rogue Chapter #1260
2017 was a challenging yet very rewarding year. The chapter had almost 21,000 hours of community service and raised almost $13,000 that we gave to worthy community groups and projects.
Last year we lost one of our past leaders when Herb Robb passed away but we have also had a surge in new members’ thanks in part to participation in a weekly veteran’s breakfast. Success brings growth and last year we had a successful Snowflake event bringing 4 gold star families to Boatnik for 3 days of fun. We also had several members act as guardians for an Honor Flight that took 23 WW2 & Korean vets back to Washington DC to see their memorials. We initiated a program to recognize law enforcement personnel that was adopted nationally by NCOA and we held our first annual 5K VeteRUN which brought almost 100 community citizens out to run and enabled us to have the single largest fund raiser in the history of our chapter.
As we move forward as an organization, it is important that the numerous past accomplishments of the men and women who have been members of NCOA do not fall into the oblivion created by our aging population. Our grandkids need to know what has been accomplished in the past and more importantly why these things were important enough for our generation to invest the blood, sweat & tears as well as our money and time in. In order to take a step in that direction I have been reaching out to our younger generation seeking input as to what is important to them. What are they willing to do or invest their time and finances on in order to arrive at a similar level of satisfaction that prompted us to do what we did? Times have changed and we have to be willing to adapt or everything we have done will fade into oblivion when we die.
To that end, I am seeking input and utilizing my position on NCOA’s International Board of Directors to see if there are programs or causes that will resonate with today’s young troops. So far I have gotten feedback like “why doesn’t NCOA partner with Habitat for Humanity to help build housing for our poor.” “Why doesn’t NCOA take on social problems like trying to curb veteran suicide because 22+ veterans are committing suicide every single day?” “Why does NCOA require membership to attend brick and mortar meetings every month in order to stay in good standing?” These issues are just the tip of the iceberg but ones that we can no longer afford to sweep under the rug. We can evolve or we can die and I didn’t invest the last 30+ years of my life on something to just give up and fade away. How about you? Do you have ideas? Do you want to be part of the solution? Join me. I want to hear from you!
It has been a while since my last column but not a time of inactivity. Whoever said that retirement is a time of leisure is obviously not retired? After the turn of the year, activity has picked up. We have had a new basic membership drive where NCOA is giving free memberships in order to increase our legislative footprint. This membership has no benefits, but is one step closer to bringing eligible potential members to one day become a benefited member because we get to share out legislative newsletter with these people so that they can see value in what we do.
In March, we held a social well attended by about 30 members. We held our 2nd Snowflake event over the Memorial Day weekend where, in partnership with the Grants Pass Active Club, several gold star children came to the Boatnik weekend. Portal to portal expenses were covered for these families who lost a father and/or husband since 9/11.
We held another social at Veterans Park and had a very interesting speaker. This young disabled Afghanistan veteran decided to turn the focus of his life from his disabilities to helping other veterans suffering from PTSD or depression. He is now involved in a foundation that helps these veterans deal with their issues through outdoor activities such a white-water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, fishing etc. It is a well-known fact that Mother Nature can have a calming effect on people. Add teamwork to the calming setting of Mother Nature and we find that these vets can begin the process of effectively dealing with the stresses of war.
An issue that is becoming more evident to many organizations in this country is that organizations as we know them are dying. There are many contributing factors to this process. We are getting older and tired of the hectic pace that we have operated at for the past forty years. The answer may very well be right in front of us if we are perceptive enough to see it. We have to get younger if we hope to keep alive. The problem is that it is hard for our older generation to change how we do business. Part of the reason for that is habit, part is a changing technology and part of it is a societal change between our generation and the millennial generation.
Survival means changing gears. We must be willing to either accept the changing technology that drives today’s millennials or at least stop pretending that we don’t have to change. If we don’t change, we die. Young people communicate differently than we did. They don’t believe in brick and mortar meetings. The kind of things that they like to do and are willing to do is very similar to what we did when we were that age, but we seem to have forgotten that. They want to be active and they want to make a difference for their community, but just in a slightly different way. We don’t want our accomplishments to be forgotten or we perceive that we will then become irrelevant. A simple concept can be the answer. Instead of focusing on how hard change is for us to accept because we don’t know how to change, perhaps we use the process of a grandparent passing down things to their grandchildren. That idea is a lot more palatable. It doesn’t intimidate someone to imagine sitting down with the grandson or granddaughter to pass on life’s accomplishments but we shy away from doing it with strangers. Today’s millennials are like our grandkids (age wise) and the survival of our life’s accomplishments should provide the motivation. Change is scary, but being forgotten is even worse.
As we are ready to close out the year 2016, there are many things to be thankful for. This will be year number 1 of my retirement from the work force and I can tell you that I have been as busy as if I were still working, but I am doing the things I enjoy now, so don’t dread retirement, look forward to it.
I have travelled to Washington DC to act as a guardian on Honor Flight for a World War 2 veteran so that he could visit his WW2 memorial. Our chapter hosted some Gold Star families for an exciting outing which included a Hells Gate dinner cruise, a visit to Wild Life Images and finally a visit to Oregon Caves. For the first time in many years, we participated in the local Veterans Day parade and celebration. I attended the celebration recently where the largest US flag in Oregon was raised over in Grants Pass. It is 40’ by 60’ and the celebration was attended by over 1000 people. Due to the generosity of our local communities, our chapter has been able to ship between 12-20 care packages to our troops overseas to lift their morale. This really came to fruition after my grandson who is an NCOA member and a soldier stationed in South Korea brought up how much some care packages from Indiana meant to he and his fellow soldiers.
We just completed a successful recruiting drive where we brought in about 20 new members and through my efforts working on our membership database another 20 current members that were not affiliated with a chapter agreed to join our chapter. I have been encouraged by many of the members that I have met via email and telephone that want to be kept up to speed on what NCOA is doing. Just today I was informed that NCOA got some face time with the President Elect Trump to voice our concerns over needed changes in the VA and other matters affecting our membership. With the incoming administration we have indications that things that have been on the back burner for the last 8 years may be getting a fresh look. I am optimistic about our future and I hope that you are too!
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.
Strength in Unity and Leadership By Example
SKCM (SCW) Terry M. Haines, USNR Retired