There are over 1.4 million people serving on active duty in our U.S. Armed Forces, and another 848,000 assigned to the seven reserve components. That number doesn’t include the more than 23 million veterans in our country. Almost all of these military members and veterans have family members, bringing the total military community to over 50 million individuals.
There are many organizations and associations available to help members of the military during and after their service to the country. These associations not only encourage and spur camaraderie, they also offer incredible benefits for their members. Some provide advocacy, help you network and access job opportunities, tap into benefits at a reduced cost, lobby congress concerning issues vital to military life, or find support for you and your family in times of war and peace.
What are some of the advantages of to belonging to a military association?
- Professionals Who Identify With Members -
The needs of our expanding military community and their families are great, and growing daily. Who knows those needs better than someone who’s experienced them firsthand? Military associations are usually founded and managed by experienced military professionals. And, because they’ve been where you are. they know and understand the unique needs of not only active duty military but those of retired, National Guard, and Reserve members.
- A Sense of Community -
The membership of military associations is made up of people just like you, which creates a fraternity of sorts -- a brotherhood and sisterhood. Military associations are an excellent link to members from every branch of service - including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, and their families. With so many different types of military associations, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one whose membership is made up of men and women you can relate to and bond with. Members share each other’s experiences and concerns and work together to improve the quality of life and offer support for those in their community.
- Member Focused and Committed to Service -
Military associations may have large or small membership bases, but they have one thing in common. They are confident in and committed to their goal - to serve the needs of the military community. Personal service is important to associations that work with military families because in many cases their members are their family.
- Long History of Serving the Military -
Like the rich history of the United States uniformed services, many military associations have a long history of service and dedication to their cause. Many associations were founded after a member of the military saw a need that wasn’t being met any where else. They’ve been where you are and they know the stresses and challenges that are unique to those who serve our country and their families.
- Quick Response in Times of Rapid Deployment -
In recent years, military personnel and their families have been faced with more frequent and often longer deployments. This can be a confusing and stressful time even if you’ve been through it many times before. There are so many details to tend to in such a short amount of time that preparations can easily become overwhelming. Because military associations aren’t bound by government red tape, they are often better able to respond to members facing rapid deployment. By focusing their resources where they are needed most within the military community, professional military associations can be an invaluable tool to manage the challenges of deployment. In fact, many of these organizations have multiple resources and staff specifically trained to ease worries about things at home.
What kinds of services and benefits do military associations offer?
Military associations often offer a wide variety of products and services for their members including accidental death and dismemberment, long-term care and other specialized insurance policies. Many offer newsletters and publications with timely information geared toward military families. Because these associations know and relate to their members on a level most civilian organizations don’t, they make a conscious effort to seek out products and services that are the ‘best of the best’ – for our country’s elite military community. Resources and services available may include:
• mental health care and support groups
• financial planning tools
• emergency notification services
• secure online tools for storing personal information, passwords, and other important documents
• links to non-profit agencies focused on the specific needs of combat wounded, military families, and veterans
• and more.
There are countless reputable military associations to choose from all offering valuable benefits to their members. Feel free to join more than one! So, whether you choose ASMBA (Armed Services Mutual Benefit Association), AFBA, USAA, USBA or another, you can be confident that membership in a military association will give you access to the very best for you and your family.