AFSA serves as outlet for Airmen



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


8/26/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, GUNTER ANNEX, Ala. -- Through social events, service programs and education, the Air Force Sergeants Association, or AFSA, gives a voice to today's Airmen.

"I hope members will value their military benefits and cherish all those who came before us," said Senior Master Sgt. Roger Turnipseed, membership trustee and lifetime member. "I want our members to continue to give back to the community and support those in need."

One way the Hearts of Dixie, AFSA Chapter 444 supports the community is through outreach at Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City.

"We're spending time with those who may have been forgotten," said Senior Master Sgt. Maurice Arnold, retiree affairs chair.

Chapter members volunteer to visit veterans and bring gifts. "They're asking us to be a listening ear, because they just want to talk," Arnold said.

The group also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and sponsored a four-kilometer fun run and walk at Maxwell. "We're always looking for volunteer opportunities," said Airman 1st Class Kelly Bloxson, volunteer chair.

The members also look for ways to have fun, including game nights and various camaraderie events.

"We like to host events for AFSA members and the Airmen," said Airman 1st Class Christopher Stoltz, Airman activity coordinator. "Whether it is a bowling night, video-game tournament or fantasy-football league, we like to ensure our members can take some time from serving the local community to have some fun."

AFSA also updates members on current legislative policies that affect Airmen at Maxwell and around the country. Members learn how they can make a difference as individuals, and the association as a whole has a lobbyist who speaks for the group.

"We're going to help those who served and are serving now," said Master Sgt. Laron Dass, legislative activity chair.

"AFSA is the only organization that fights for our benefits in the name of the enlisted force," Turnipseed said. "We have lobbyists that go before Congressional members of both houses to support all causes to maintain and improve benefits for the total force."

The Hearts of Dixie, Chapter 444 meets at 11:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month at Gunter Lanes, and all are invited. The association is open to active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard members and retirees. Family members are welcome to join the auxiliary, and officers and other service members can join as associate members.

Membership has been growing at the Maxwell-Gunter branch, which features more than 970 members from around the state. "I'd like to surpass 1,000," Turnipseed said.

A two-year membership for E-1 to E-4 costs $25. All others pay $25 for one year, $44 for two years, $64 for three years and $350 for a lifetime membership.

For information on the Hearts of Dixie Chapter, visit its Facebook page or www.afsa444.org. The group will host a membership drive during the Gunter Commissary case-lot sale Sept. 15-17. For information on AFSA, visit www.hqafsa.org.