The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

June/July 2002
MEMBERSHIP MATTERS
   
 

Changing Of The Watch

BY BOB THOMPSON, DIRECTOR, MEMBERSHIP AFFAIRS 
 

I was very pleased to be hired in April as VVA's Director of Membership Affairs.  As many of you know, Allen Green moved on to a new position.  He left behind a very successful operation. Al led the transition to a reliable, user-friendly membership database, implemented a rolling renewal process, and made many other improvements to the membership process.   

We have an experienced and motivated staff in the Membership Department, and I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with Membership Committee Chair Bill Meeks and all the members of the committee. It will be daunting a daunting challenge to improve on something this good. As I get my bearings and work to plot a course for the long term, my philosophy is: "Build the future on the success of the present.''    

Speaking of getting bearings and plotting courses, you may guess that I come from a sea-service background. I began active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1978, retiring last year. I'm the son of a veteran from an earlier era.  In my last active-duty assignment, I was the Director of Operations for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the service's 34,000-member volunteer, public service component. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a dues-paying membership organization with an elected leadership, very much like VVA.  

Although they are civilian volunteers, Auxiliarists wear uniforms and are authorized to wear ribbons from previous military service. Many of my Auxiliary colleagues proudly wore the Vietnam Service Ribbon (and I saw many Korea and World War II service ribbons as well). So, having come from a membership organization with a large population of veterans and a tradition of service to country and others, I feel right at home in VVA.    

Shortly after reporting, I attended a regional conference as a guest of Region 5 Director and former Membership Committee Chair Lupe Alviar. Lupe designed a conference agenda around the theme of membership development. We enjoyed hearing VVA members and leaders share their ideas for membership recruiting and retention. I learned a very valuable lesson at this conference: While the national office plays an important role in processing applications and renewals and operating the database, local chapters are the heart and soul of the organization. I may be able to pick up some new members through advertisements and mailings, but the real strength lies with chapter members and leaders. You're the ones who can really get people interested in joining and staying.     

I hope that many of you will attend the Leadership Conference in Tucson in August. The membership team will have three seminars on Friday, August 15. We'll cover membership development, recruiting and retention, and administration. The administration seminar will offer tips on how to use information-age resources to make membership operations more efficient.  For example, we'll show you how easy it is to order and receive state and chapter rosters on-line. There will be many workshops, covering a wide range of veterans issues, as well as fun and fellowship opportunities.     

To those I have met already, either in person or on the telephone, thank you for the very warm welcome you've shown me.  I look forward to meeting many more of you at the Leadership Conference.  In the meantime, if you have an idea, success story, or best practice you'd like to share, please call me at 800-882-1316, ext. 115, or send an e-mail to bthomson@vva.org.  You can also call or e-mail me for chapter rosters, or if you have a membership concern or problem.  I'm proud to be a new member of the VVA team and am honored to serve those who have served.

   

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