March 8, 2016
SUBJECT: President's Topics
A hearty welcome to 2016 for our members. I have a number of topics I would like to discuss with you as we press forward into this new year.
The first is membership management. I think everyone is generally aware that we have struggled in being responsive to provide prompt membership cards for both new members and renewals. The facts leading to this situation are as follows:
a. The system we use to create and maintain the membership data base, produce the membership cards, prepare renewal reminders, and to mail the cards and renewal reminders is complex, analog, handmade, and extremely time consuming. For example, the database requires 57 separate entries into an excel spreadsheet for a single member . Address changes, deaths, and other changing information have complicated the accuracy of the database. The tools for the operation are antiquated given today's technologies and resources.
b. The responsibility for this operation among the National Officers lies with the Executive Director and ultimately with me. The Executive Director has a demanding full-time career coupled with a challenging family situation. He became overwhelmed with the antiquated membership operation and has not been able to bring the operation up to Association standards. My observations are that the membership operation is well beyond the ability of a volunteer person. Based on this situation, I have decided to change Executive Directors and hire a replacement.
I know that many members are understandably angry with this unresponsiveness. The National Officers met on March 5th in Watertown, NY with the aim of developing a plan to immediately rectify the membership operation problems. Here is the corrective action plan:
a. We simplified the membership database that will streamline data entry. We have scrubbed the membership database to insure it includes all the information we currently have and that it accurately corresponds with our financial records.
b. We approved the design of a new card that is mapped to the simplified database. For simplicity and cost, all membership cards will be the same except for the information on the card. For example, lifetime member cards will be so annotated, and annual cards will have expiration dates.
c. We hired a card vendor who will produce the new cards.
d. We hired a new Executive Director who will be compensated for managing membership operations.
e. The card vendor will prepare new cards for all annual members and we expect to have those in the mail on or about April 1, 2016. All current annual members and those who have applied will be sent cards. Renewal notices for annual members will be sent in January, 2017.
f. The card vendor will prepare new cards for all lifetime members and we expect to have those in the mail on or about May 1, 2016. Forms for lifetime member information updates
will be sent on or about August 1, 2016.
g. We are revising the membership application and renewal form so they will map to the simplified member database.
h. We reviewed and simplified what will be included in the membership packets sent to our membership.
i. We have begun to craft a contract Statement of Work for the collation and mailing of the membership packets, renewals, and lifetime member information updates. The Executive Director will maintain the member database, but the cards, membership packets, renewals, and lifetime member information update requests will be outsourced.
I apologize for the previous membership difficulties, but I am confident we will execute this plan well and put the train back on its tracks.
The second topic I would like to discuss is the sharing of Soldier experiences, particularly those who have served in the modern 10th Mountain Division from its reactivation to the present. We know through our social media that there are abundant stories about Soldier experiences in the activation at the 2d Brigade at Fort Benning and move to Fort Drum, Haiti, Hurricane Andrew, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We would like to be able to share your stories with the membership through this Association. A first step would be to publish some of these stories in the Blizzard. If you could boil your story or a vignette down to a couple of typewritten pages, we'd love to have you send it to our Blizzard Editor, Felicity Hallanan.
Third, the Fort Drum Chapter is hosting the dedication of a new statue in Watertown, NY at the "Honor the Mountain" ceremony on July 1, 2016. We would love to have good membership attendance. If you are interested in attending the ceremony, Mike Plummer and the Fort Drum Chapter can provide details.
Fourth, we will be hosting the 32d Congress of the International Federation of Mountain Soldiers (IFMS) in 2017 in the Watertown and Thousand Islands area. Our Vice President, Jim Redmore, is leading this effort. More information will be forthcoming.
Fifth, we plan to conduct a National Association Reunion in 2017. We have not selected a location yet. However, some have suggested New Orleans and the WWII Museum there or Fort Benning/Columbus, GA where the 2d Brigade of the modern 10th was reactivated. We are looking for a chapter willing to host the reunion and an event coordinator who we are willing to pay up to $10,000 to help set-up the reunion.
Sixth, Doug Schmidt is managing our Facebook Page and he's doing a great job. There is considerable information and discussion via the Page, and I would encourage you to join in on the discussion. We will be coming-up on the 25th anniversary of modern Division events such as Hurricane Andrew and Somalia, and we expect a lot of information sharing on the Page.
Finally, let me note that a major part of the 10th Mountain Division (Light) is deployed and in harm's way. This weekend, I had the opportunity again to walk among the memorials, monuments, and statues at Fort Drum dedicated to the men and women who have served in the 10th, from World War II onward. It is a sobering walk which vividly reflects the sacrifices of the Soldiers and Families of the Division. I ask you to keep our deployed Soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.
Climb to Glory,