“Why join the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of New Jersey?”

  • Published
  • By By retired Sgt. Maj. Michael Amoroso
  • Vice President Army, Enlisted Association
You should ask yourself, "Why join the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of New Jersey?" There are many reasons to join the Association.
Our Association represents the men and women who form the backbone of the services. When our Association began it was known as the NCO Association. I can remember every Annual Training period I paid dues to the association, as did every enlisted soldier in the pay line. Yes, we were paid in cash at the end of our two weeks of training. Our dues back then were $5. The Association represented us on many Federal and State legislative matters.
Back then, we were trying to get National Guard license plates and we were looking for better pay and benefits from the Department of Defense; benefits like Reenlistment Bonuses. Yes, that's right, Reenlistment Bonuses. The first bonus benefit was a $1,200 six year reenlistment bonus paid in 6 increments of $200. Truly it is a far cry from today's Soldiers' $15,000 reenlistment bonus or $20,000 enlistment bonus.
Our Association and EANGUS, our National Association, have continued to fight for better benefits for every member of the Guard. In the National Defense Appropriation Bill this year was a new retirement benefit.
No longer do some of our members have to wait till age 60 to collect their retirement. Okay, it has some limitations, but it's a start. It reduces the age at which you can retire (from age 60) 90 days for every aggregate 90 days you are on active duty orders for a contingency operation or national emergency (Title 10 or 32) within your retirement year. The orders don't have to be for 90 days or more, but credit is given in 90-day chunks at the end of the retirement year when posting to your records. Bad news - the law is not retroactive, so time already spent on orders prior to January 28 doesn't count - YET. We will continue to fight to have Congress pass legislation to correct the oversight.
The final National Guard Commission Report of the Independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves was released to news organizations on January 31, at 10 a.m. in a "Newsmaker" event at the National Press Club. The release of the report followed its delivery that morning to Congress and the Secretary of Defense. The report documented the results of a congressionally mandated examination, nearly two years long, of the seven reserve components of the U.S. military. The Commission sees "no reasonable alternative to the nation's continuing increased reliance on its reserve components" as an operational force for missions at home and abroad. The reserve components are under significant stress from ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Commission believes that Congress and the Department of Defense must make major changes in laws, rules, regulations, personnel, and funding systems in order to sustain an operational reserve - an essential contributor to the health of the nation's all-volunteer military force - in the years to come. This report could bring landmark legislation that may radically change the shape and benefits in the Guard. See the article in our legislative section of our newsletter on our website - http://www.eang-nj.org/index.html.
These are just a few issues our state and national associations are doing to improve and protect your benefits. Many of you are taking advantage of the free college tuition at state colleges and universities. Our Association fought hard for that benefit. We testified in front of the Assembly and Senate committee hearings. The original benefit only covered attaining a bachelor's degree; now you can use the benefit to attain a master's degree or higher. We are able to get these benefits through strength in numbers.
That is why you are so important to us. Your membership in our organization will sustain the benefits we have and will also help in succeeding to get additional benefits for you. So, ask yourself again, "Do I really need to join the Enlisted Association now to keep the benefits I have today and get future benefits?" The answer is clear and simple: Yes you do. Make it a point to join today or contact me at michael.c.amoroso@us.army.mil and I will give you 10 reasons why you need to join. You may also contact Master Sgt. Sydney Fuchs at Sydney.fuchs@njmcgu.ang.af.mil or 609-562-0921.