By Sofia Bledsoe, AMCOMAugust 11, 2008
For an unprecedented five years in a row, the Association of the U.S. Army's Redstone-Huntsville Chapter has been chosen as the international Best Overall Chapter.
This year the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter will share the honor with co-winner Central Texas, Fort Hood.
The Redstone-Huntsville Chapter will be recognized at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition on Oct. 6-8 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
"This great accomplishment would not be possible without the hard work and contributions of our board and membership," chapter president Mike Howell said."We have a great leadership team -- the Executive Committee and Executive Board, a great group of corporate and individual members and a very supportive Team Redstone led by Maj. Gen. (Jim) Myles, including SMDC and Lt. Gen. (Kevin) Campbell."
Each year the local chapters of AUSA compete with hundreds of others across the U.S. and overseas. Winning an honor such as Best Overall Chapter is no easy feat. Chapters are judged based on numerous criteria such as having the largest chapter membership, corporate and individual membership growth, support to Army Reserve components, retirees and families; overall percent increase in membership, best general membership meeting and more.
"I sensed that a tie was inevitable this year," Howell said. "This year we were always watching Fort Bragg (N.C.), also in the 3rd Region."
Winning a tie with Fort Hood was a little bit of a surprise to Howell and the chapter members.
"It (Fort Bragg) is the largest chapter in all of AUSA. They finished runner-up to us and the Fort Hood Chapter. Both chapters worked very hard to unseat us this year -- it's a good rivalry to keep us on our toes and improve AUSA overall," Howell said. "We share our lessons learned and techniques with our fellow chapters."
Ultimately, it is all about the Soldiers, AUSA and the Army, he continued. "The stronger we all are, the greater the impact."
Howell credits this chapter's ongoing success to the leadership and membership support from the Redstone-Huntsville community. "Their passion for Soldiers and their families and the great DA civilian work force is shared and underlies all that we do. It makes a difference in the programs that we do," he said.
The overarching mission of AUSA National and its chapters is to represent every American Soldier through three primary objectives. First and foremost it is to be the "voice" for the Army. Then it uses that voice to gain public support of the Army's role in national security. Finally, AUSA provides further support through professional education and informational programs.
"It's all about the Soldiers, AUSA and the Army. The stronger we all are, the greater the impact," Howell said.
There is one area, however, that Howell feels could have been improved upon this year. "We did not get the Army History Streamer -- that's my failing -- as we forgot to report our actions to AUSA National.
"I'm very pleased that we picked up "'Excellence in Corporate Growth,' one of our goals this year, and Greatest DAC membership, ROTC, Reserve Component Support and recruiting support," he said. "All of the categories are important and recognition of our chapter leadership and membership is sweet."
The chapter will also receive three special awards for its activities at the annual meeting last year, Veterans Day programs, and the 2007 Armed Forces Celebration Week in Huntsville-Madison County.
Howell's goal during his first year as chapter president was to keep the qualitative edge in the chapter's programs. "To kick it up a notch as Emeril says."
"I think we did meet that goal and came close to meeting the goal of 300 corporate and 3,000 individual members. The quality of our programs and our reporting of them is going to be our challenge," he said.
With the large Soldier base of Ford Hood, Fort Bliss (Texas), Fort Bragg, and many of the major Soldier posts, winning Best Overall Chapter again will continue to be a huge challenge for Redstone-Huntsville.
"Our challenge this year is to ensure we integrate SMDC with AMCOM in terms of our outreach. This expanded Team Redstone builds the base for the following year as we begin to welcome headquarters AMC to Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal," Howell said.
The Redstone-Huntsville Chapter will also be recognized at the AUSA national convention for the following accomplishments:
Aca,!Ac Best web site - runner-up
Aca,!Ac Best chapter newsletter - runner-up
Aca,!Ac Best general membership meeting - honorable mention
Aca,!Ac Best chapter in support of Reserve components - winner
Aca,!Ac Greatest percentage increase in corporate membership - winner
Aca,!Ac Greatest percentage increase in retiree membership - honorable mention
Aca,!Ac Greatest corporate membership - runner-up
Aca,!Ac Greatest government civilian employee membership - winner
Aca,!Ac Most active in pursuit of objectives - honorable mention
Aca,!Ac Best corporate member support - runner-up
Aca,!Ac Awards for: Army Birthday, Family Programs, ILW Contribution, ROTC Support, Take the Hill, Star Chapter, three Special Awards (to be presented at the Annual Meeting), Excellence in Corporate Membership Growth, President's Club - Gold Level, Merit Chapter, Superior Chapter, Chapter of Excellence, Support to Recruiting Command, and Continuous Membership Chapters.