AUSN Coalitions, Alliances and Memberships
Increasing Leadership and Building Coalitions--the History
The growing assistance from our membership at highlighting issues and at grassroots support by contacting congressional offices is excellent. Yet AUSN is but a single voice in a multiple of invocation. Military issues are awash in competitive lobbying - from businesses, labor, healthcare, insurance, religious groups, state and local governments and other non-profit associations.
Over twenty years ago, twelve like minded military and veteran service organizations recognized that competition between armed service's non-profit organizations on defense, personnel, and veteran issues was inefficient. Each non-profit would independently approach Congress with issues and, as a result, little was getting accomplished. The Military Coalition was formed in 1985, with AUSN (at that time NRA) among the plank-owners. The combined grassroots clout of several organizations created a multiplier effect.
Together, these associations achieved some early accomplishments, including:
- Winning repeal of 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction law which would have imposed a 22.5 percent lifetime reduction in military and Federal civilian retired pay.
- Authored and promoted enactment of numerous separation incentives to assist personnel being separated in the massive defense drawdown - incentives included enlisted separation pay, special separation bonus, voluntary separation incentives, 15-year retirement option, and transitional health care.
- Achieved commissary and exchange privileges for gray area reservists.
Hundreds of successes later, The Military Coalition (TMC) has grown to thirty-one member associations which meets monthly as a group, representing over 5.5 million uniformed service, veteran, and retiree members, plus their families. TMC has eight standing committees, which meet additionally to develop agenda on various topics. The Association of the United States Navy belongs to the Guard and Reserve Subcommittee, which advocates reserve component issues before the Coalition. AUSN also currently belongs to both the Health and Veterans Subcommittees of the TMC.
In 1996, there was a family squabble within TMC. There was a disagreement over whether TMC should incorporate, and how the Coalition would be funded. Several of associations split off and formed the National Military/Veteran's Alliance.
The National Military/Veteran's Alliance (NMVA) has grown to twenty-five military and veteran associations and represents 3.5 million members, plus their families. AUSN is a co-director of the Alliance along with the National Association of Uniformed Services, and AUSN also chairs the Guard and Reserve committee.
Both the Coalition and the Alliance learned lessons from the 1996 break, and they work informally together, with several associations including AUSN belonging to both.
The American Legion doesn't join coalitions, so it hosts the ADHOC Committee. Up to forty-one national organizations meet monthly. Members discuss important issues affecting service members and their families, retirees, veterans, and survivors.
AUSN has worked to create a new coalition: Associations for Americas Defense (A4DA). Nine associations feel that there is a gap in military issues represented by military and veteran service organizations. The Coalition and the Alliance work personnel and retiree issues. Force policy and hardware requirements are rarely discussed. A4DA is attempting to fill the void, without competing on issues already covered by the Alliance or the Coalition. The nine associations are: the Enlisted National Guard Association of the United States, the Marine Corps Reserve Association, the Military Order of the World Wars, the Association of the United States Navy, the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, the National Association of Uniformed Services, the Navy League of the United States, The Retired Enlisted Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This group represents 2.5 million members.
While there is some overlap; each organization has unique membership mixes, and different legislative agenda. What is in common to each group is the desire to work toward a strong national defense, be it through personnel issues, or, eventually, hardware and service specific items. These coalitions serve as a means to expand AUSN's effectiveness at supporting our Association's objectives to support the Navy, Naval Reserve, and Reservist.