Note from the President
April is proving to be the month of STEM education for AFA, with both our CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers Programs hosting their National Finals Competitions. Once again, I had the privilege of traveling to Baltimore to see the CyberPatriot Finals in person, where the top 28 Finalists out of over 4,400 original teams competed for the national championship title. These National Finals Competitions are world-class events hosted by AFA, and I was truly impressed by the talent of the students. They are competitive and laser focused on the competition at hand, yet their collegial demeanor toward one another was truly inspiring.
The StellarXplorers competition was also a booming success. This year’s event highlighted the ten best teams in the nation out of a field of more than 330 teams. Held in Colorado Springs, the competition addressed a challenging space system design problem and the competitors worked very hard to solve this complex problem. I am very proud of the work AFA does in support of STEM education, and its best days are ahead.
We celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo with a wreath laying ceremony on April 18th at the Air Force Memorial, published an op-ed by the son of SSgt David Thatcher, and our Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies honored Lt Col Dick Cole, the sole surviving raider, at a special dinner in his honor.
In this 70th birthday year of our Air Force, we are also observing the 70th anniversary of Arnold Air Society and 65th anniversary of Silver Wings. As President Ronald Reagan said, “People who say there are no more heroes just don’t know where to look.” These professional, honorary service organizations comprise the best students and AFROTC cadets and have supplied the Air Force with outstanding leaders. They held their annual National Convention in Orlando, FL, in April and AFA Chairman of the Board Whit Peters attended as keynote speaker.
I was grateful to attend the Langley Chapter Symposium at Langley Air Force Base this month, and it was a tremendous success. Chapter President Mark “Buster” Douglas really knows how to put on a show! While doing research for my remarks, I learned that AFA played a key role in getting the Dual Compensation Act of 1964 repealed. This law dictated that retired military members who go to work for the federal government will have their retired pay deducted from their federal pay, with the employee receiving the remainder. AFA worked to have this repealed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000. Other accomplishments included repealing the Source Tax, which allowed states where a military member had once resided to tax a portion of their retired pay. This repeal went all the way to the Supreme Court for resolution. The bottom line is many are unaware of the plethora of accomplishments by AFA on behalf of the Air Force. Please join me in spreading the word as you go out and speak on behalf of AFA.
I recently had an op-ed published on the importance of Congress passing a budget and met personally with several members of Congress. You can read the op-ed here. Congress has until April 28th to either finalize the Fiscal Year 2017 budget or pass another continuing resolution (CR). Unfortunately, CRs have become the norm and are antithetical to good government. A yearlong CR would be devastating to our Air Force and military. As it looks today, we anticipate Congress will pass yet another short-term CR to keep the government running and then complete a DoD Appropriations Bill – we certainly hope that is the case.
Our staff is hard at work preparing for our 2017 Air, Space & Cyber Conference and Technology Exposition. This year’s event will be a special one as we recognize the 70th birthday of our Air Force and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force position.
You may also be aware that in recognition of the AF 70th anniversary we have a Recruit-70 initiative to sign up as many new AFA members as possible. As an incentive, eMemberships are offered at a 50% discount. Please join us by signing up a new member today here.
Finally, we have just pushed past the halfway mark toward our goal to raise $50,000 in support of Air Force Wounded Airmen. We are hosting a Wounded Airmen Cycling Challenge and are asking those who can to participate as a cyclist and others to donate toward our goal. To cycle or donate, please click here.
Thank you to our dedicated members, partners, volunteers and staff who make all of this possible. We continue looking forward to a big year ahead and hope you can join us at many of our upcoming events.
Larry O. Spencer