posted on June 24, 2011 18:22
This is the second Irons for June and I have to begin this one on a sad note. On the 14th of June Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Emanuel “Manny” Ratner passed away at the age of 94. Manny was a member of AUSN and a stalwart member of the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association. Until very recently he contributed a column to the quarterly “Mariner” magazine. Manny was the type of member that all associations value greatly. He gave of self far more than he expected in return year after year. When Manny’s beloved wife Bea, a Navy nurse passed away, Manny established AUSN’s Bea Ratner award which is presented annually to an outstanding Navy Reserve nurse junior officer. This year’s award will be presented in New Orleans next month. Manny will be greatly missed by members of both AUSN and NERA.
The conference is just around the corner and I will reserve the July Irons message until after our trip to New Orleans. Things are shaping up well and it will be a busy but fine time for all attending. Of note, The Boeing Company is sponsoring our President’s Reception aboard the Natchez and we thank them for that partnership.
As I mentioned in the last message we were on our way to the Naval War College for the annual Current Strategy Forum. There is a blog about that forum on the web and I encourage you to take a look at it. Our second annual reception at the Officer’s Club was attended by a dozen members and new members (we signed up four). During the trip I visited with the CO of the NOSC, SWOS, and the Command Leadership School. All now have our brochures available for staff and students.
Master Chief Featherstone and I also attend the retirement ceremony for FORCECM Ronney Wright at the Navy Memorial. It was the longest retirement ceremony that I have ever attended but it was also a very special one. It is clear that Force Wright has left a big mark on the Reserve program and even bigger shoes to fill. All such events are also an opportunity to visit with significant players and we try hard not to miss those opportunities.
Last week Master Chief Featherstone, CAPT Puzon and I attended the quarterly Veterans’ Service Organization round table discussion in the Capitol building hosted as always by Leader Pelosi. I came back from this meeting saying that we had hit a home run and here is why: For these meetings all associations interested in attending are asked (usually on short notice) to provide two or three topics for discussion. Pelosi’s staff then picks 2 to 4 associations to speak, this time notifying them the night before the meeting. Two meetings ago we were selected to present a topic (one of two at that meeting).
Other Associations then may attempt to be recognized to add a comment or engage on a different subject. Just when Madam Leader is ready to entertain such comments is always hard to judge so there is gamesmanship to this including trying to guess the best place in the room to sit. Fully 2/3 of those in the room never get to speak. This time I was recognized and we brought up three issues. One of which, the Department of Labor’s recent ruling that medical practices treating patients under TRICARE are considered government contractors, had not been aired previously and caused great interest. Two other Congressmen wanted to speak to us about it after the meeting. Leader Pelosi stopped me on her way out of the meeting to talk about it briefly. This is what CAPT Puzon works on behind the scenes daily to give us these opportunities to be RELEVANT.
This Wednesday we testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense. This is an annual opportunity and we generally choose here to speak about equipment. There is a link on our home page to the video of the testimony and I encourage you to take a look. I was pleased to be asked a couple of questions by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS). Any chance for dialogue beyond your prepared testimony creates a bigger impression, hopefully a good one.
While I’m on legislative activity, this morning I read that yesterday the CNO gave a speech on the Law of the Seas Treaty. I promptly e-mailed both the CNO and the VCNO to remind them that we are the only Naval association that has testified repeatedly in favor of the treaty. The VCNO e-mailed in return a nice thank you and acknowledged the need for advocates such as AUSN.
In case you missed it the VCNO, Admiral Greenert is nominated to be the CNO. Confirmation is expected without difficulty. I have an appointment with him next Wednesday. I will also be speaking with VADM Debbink, and Secretary Garcia, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, next week.
That’s it for this edition.