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AFSA takes care of Airmen

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Gonsier 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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The Air Force Sergeants Association has been fighting for enlisted rights for more than 50 years.

From an Airman basic to a chief master sergeant, AFSA is the voice in front of Congress for all enlisted personnel.

According to the Barksdale AFSA website, it was risky to enlist in the military during the middle part of the 20th century, because enlisted personnel didn't have a voice. Congress was questioning whether Airmen should have many of the benefits they have today. AFSA was the voice that ensured enlisted personnel and veterans received their benefits and fair pay.

AFSA is still the voice for enlisted personnel, and Airmen at Barksdale know the benefits of becoming a member of the organization.

The vice president of the Barksdale chapter, Senior Master Sgt. Robert Todd said AFSA can and does foster and promote leadership and management skills in members through participation in chair committees and managing chapter projects.

"I've gained a great deal of leadership experience from AFSA," said Todd. "It helps prepare members for greater responsibility."

The association helps Airmen become leaders by having them participate in a variety of volunteer opportunities. In 2011, the Barksdale chapter devoted more than 6,500 volunteer hours for both on and off-base activities. This includes visiting local hospitals and retirement homes to care for the elderly.

In addition to volunteering, AFSA gives $4,000 in scholarships a year to Barksdale members who plan on going to college. To receive the scholarship, Airmen have to be a member of the association and fill out the application materials.

"AFSA follows the role of first sergeants by taking care of people," said Senior Master Sgt. Todd Albert, former Barksdale AFSA chapter President. "It advocates improving the quality of life and economic fairness that supports the well-being of Air Force enlisted personnel, including active, retired and veterans."

There is no rank or service requirement when it comes to becoming a member of AFSA. Everyone is qualified to join for $25 a year.

AFSA members are passionate about the enlisted community and participation in the association helps members become well-rounded professional Airmen, said Todd.

For more information, visit the Barksdale AFSA website: http://afsachapter615.org/