REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--The Redstone-Huntsville chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army is on top again.

The chapter, among the largest in the world, has been named the best overall chapter by the national AUSA organization.

The win is a repeat performance. The local chapter was named best overall chapter for six years in a row (2004-09) before losing the top spot to Fort Hood, Texas, last year. The 2011 award will be presented during the opening session at the AUSA annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in October.

“Chapters considered for best chapter overall are categorized by their membership. We are in the large membership category (1,500 members or more),” the local chapter’s president Paul Elliott said. “Obviously, chapters that are smaller have less assets to work with. We are judged based on the hardest criteria overall. AUSA national expects us to be able to do a lot.”

There are 123 AUSA chapters worldwide. The 3,000-member local chapter competed with such large chapters as the 14,000-member Fort Hood chapter and the 10,000-menber Fort Bragg, N.C., chapter to win best chapter overall.

“Clearly, this award demonstrates excellent performance by the chapter, by all our chapter officers and volunteers, and by all the programs we provide for Soldiers, families, DA civilians, veterans and retirees,” Elliott said. “It shows the depth of our effort among our volunteers and the dedication they all have to chapter excellence.”

Recognition programs honoring Soldiers, Army civilians and their families as well as special events such as the Veterans Day Parade, Armed Forces Week and the groundbreaking for the Veterans Memorial help the local chapter in the judging for the best overall chapter award.

“We were a runner-up to Fort Hood last year. They had a major membership drive in 2010 and really stepped up their program, and that helped them win,” Elliott said. “The top chapters are all very close in their quality of programs. A lot of chapters out there work hard. If they are successful in any year, it makes for a challenge to stay on top.

“That stiff competition brings everybody up. Regardless of who wins, it’s all good for the Army.

The mission is to support the Army and the Soldiers. So, if it’s good for the Army, we’re all winners.”

In addition, the local chapter was named a winner for best website, government civilian employee membership and active pursuit of objectives; was a co-winner with the Central Texas-Fort Hood chapter for best chapter newsletter; received a commendable award for general membership meeting; and received runner-up awards for percentage increase in corporate membership and corporate membership. The chapter also qualified for ribbons recognizing corporate member support and reserve component support.

But the best chapter overall is the big one.

“It recognized the excellence of all our hard work, it provides visibility and a venue for all our nominees to compete at the national level and it helps us build membership because people want to be part of our winning organization,” Elliott said.

During the AUSA annual meeting, several nominees from the Redstone-Huntsville chapter will compete in such categories as volunteer family of the year, Soldier of the year, NCO of the year and DA civilian of the year.

“With best chapter overall, it means our programs are strong enough that our nominees at the national level should compete very well,” Elliott said.

The chapter’s president said the local community and region are a good backdrop for the chapter to continue doing well in AUSA’s national competitions.

“This community is so patriotic and very supportive of our military. The community really turns out for our veterans activities,” Elliott said.

“The large concentration of defense companies here are all supportive and, because of BRAC (base realignment and closure), a lot of major players in the Army’s leadership are now located here. There’s a lot of synergy across the board and it benefits chapter activities. There are a lot of great volunteers here that want to do great work to support the Army.”

Those volunteers will be celebrated and recognized during the AUSA annual meeting, Oct. 10-12. The Redstone-Huntsville chapter will host a hospitality suite during the meeting at the Embassy Suites, with its open house set for the evening of Oct. 11. In addition, the chapter has blocked off rooms for its corporate members at the Embassy Suites.

Joe Fitzgerald, the state president for AUSA who was the Redstone-Huntsville chapter president in 2004 when the chapter began its six-year streak as top chapter, will be among those celebrating the beginning of what the chapter hopes will be another long run on best overall chapter.

“Every time we win overall best chapter, it is a remarkable achievement,” Fitzgerald said. “It demonstrates our programs and activities are supporting Soldiers and families better than anywhere else in the country or even the world.

“And it further demonstrates that the decisions made in BRAC 2005 to bring Army organizations here were the right ones. We are the most patriotic and supportive community of our military.”

In 2004, the chapter won best overall chapter not because it had beefed up already excellent programs but because it did a better job documenting and reporting the success of those programs to the national organization. Fitzgerald hopes the chapter will continue that success.

“We are building upon a very good working relationship that our chapter has with the Chamber of Commerce, the military industrial base and the Army commands. It has been extraordinary,” he said.

“Our chapter president will accept the award with the commanding general of the Aviation and Missile Command and AMCOM’s command sergeant major, at a minimum. This award is not only recognized among AUSA chapters but also among the military commands as being very important. It is a stellar achievement.”

For more information on the AUSA annual meeting, check out the Redstone-Huntsville chapter’s website at