Seventy five years ago, Feb. 23, 1929, in Los Angeles, 64 retired military officers got together to form The Retired Officers Association. This past Monday marked the 75th Anniversary of that occasion.
Now known as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), it has grown to nearly 378,000 members. It relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1944. Since 1978, its home has been 201 N. Washington Street in Alexandria.
Under the leadership of its president, Vice Admiral Norbert E. Ryan, Jr., USN Ret., and chairman of its Board of Directors, Admiral Jerry Johnson, USN, Ret., MOAA has a national presence with more than 420 organized autonomous chapters throughout the country. They are active in local and state affairs affecting the entire officer community in all seven uniformed services.
Celebrating the anniversary, most of their 95 staff members gathered at the headquarters to enjoy pizza and a three-foot by two- foot cake. Ryan told the gathering, "Our primary project for this 75th anniversary is our scholarship program. This is what our people need, help with education for their children. They are not only serving their country but they are also sacrificing for their country."
Ryan noted he had been traveling to chapters to encourage them to get their members to donate $75 each to the fund. "If each member gives only $75 we will have reached our goal of $7.5 million," he said.
THE FUND, initiated in 1948, has provided scholarships to more than 7,500 students, according to Laurie Wavering, MOAA Scholarship Fund administrator. "Each recipient can get up to $3,750 per year for up to five years. But it can only be used for undergraduate study," she explained.
"Funds are distributed throughout the world since we have members in all locations," said Trey Linnemeier, the fund's project development officer. "There are no restrictions on course of study as long as the student is attending an accredited college or university." MOAA provides approximately 1,700 scholarship a year.
Two other primary MOAA programs concentrate on protecting pension benefits for military widows and offering transition aid to military personnel leaving the service for the private sector.
"We are working closing with Congress to make sure that pension benefits for military widows are not reduced when they reach age 62," said Admiral Jerry Johnson, USN Ret., chairman, MOAA Board of Directors.
"We estimate that approximately 10,000 military personnel per year are transitioning through MOAA services," noted Judy Bennett, executive assistant, MOAA Transition Office. "We hold training sessions at military bases around the world on how to go about getting a job in the private sector."
On April 22, MOAA will hold its Fourth Annual Career Fair at the Washington Convention Center. Thus far, 111 companies have signed up to discuss potential career possibilities, according to Bennett.
Membership in MOAA is open to all men and women who are or have been commissioned or warrant officers in any of the seven uniformed services, reserves, or other components of these services. Surviving spouses of deceased members or other individuals who had been eligible for membership also qualify for auxiliary membership.