AFA starts anew at Spangdahlem

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis Siekert
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Association is active at many Air Force bases around the world, but for the last 10 years the Spangdahlem chapter has been dormant.

Spangdahlem leadership was recently notified that if a new council wasn't set up, the chapter would be permanently terminated.

Just weeks later, Spangdahlem AFA Chapter #534 crossed the first major hurdle by becoming an active chapter Dec. 5 and electing an executive council.

"I decided to run for president because I knew this would be something very challenging, but quite rewarding," said Tech. Sgt. Larry Brown, 52nd Security Forces Squadron and newly elected AFA president. "The AFA does a lot more than the local populous might know, and I wanted to help spread AFA's message to our local community."

The AFA is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation, according to the official AFA website.

"The importance of the Air Force Association to our Airmen and to the Air Force in general cannot be understated," said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Grengs, 52nd Fighter Wing command chief. "Through advocacy, education and support, AFA brings incredible value to our Airmen and their families across the globe. Therefore, reinvigorating the Spangdahlem chapter only makes sense. It's an opportunity to bring like-minded Airmen together for the purpose of mentoring and helping one another and collectively making a difference across the base and in the local community."

The first part of the AFA is advocacy.

Similar to other Air Force-related private organizations, representatives with the AFA act as advocates for the Air Force growth and development, but can be set apart by what specifically it is advocating for.

"(Other organizations) may lobby more for Air Force benefits, tuition assistance and things like that," said Senior Master Sgt. Johnny Harris, 52nd Communications Squadron postal operations superintendent and AFA Chapter #534 senior mentor. "But, when the AFA goes up on (Capitol) Hill, they are talking about weapons systems, education, technology and infrastructure."

Education is another main component of their mission.

In addition to advocating for aerospace defense, association representatives in Washington, D.C., the AFA also promotes education of how air power contributes to national defense, specifically through science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Grengs said the role of STEM in American schools is vital to ensuring the country thrives in a technology-based society and the Air Force remains a dominant force in the future.

Lastly, the AFA is here for support.

"We wish to be inner part of the community, understanding community needs and meeting them with programs," Harris said. "We can continue to advocate for STEM programs in our schools, and bring together partnerships to continue to grow."

The council aims to make the local chapter fully active by early 2014.

To find out more information on how to join or to participate, contact Brown at DSN: 652-6382.