the trip. Several chapter members also have participated in the trips as honored veterans. “Folks can’t wait for the next op- portunity to get involved,” Wexler says. “It’s really an exciting thing. We have great support from the local [military bases], and active duty folks come over to wish the veterans well. It’s a great opportu- nity for young folks who are serving now to talk with these veterans.” Wexler, who has been involved with the program for about seven years, has volunteered on six Honor Flight trips. Meanwhile, his wife, Mary, a geriatric nurse, has volun- teered on three. He says he is dedicated to Honor

Flight’s mission. “In my opinion, there are veterans of all these con- flicts who would never get to these memorials built in their honor if it weren’t for our assistance.” Both Wexler and Greenhalgh

say they highly recommend other MOAA chapter members consider getting involved with hubs in their areas. “World War II veterans, for the most part, haven’t seen the [World War II] monument — a mag- nificent monument,” Greenhalgh says. “The thank-you that monu- ment represents to those veterans ... and the appreciation they feel rubs off on the volunteers. Whether you go as a guardian or financially sup- port it, you’re providing this benefit and a long overdue thank-you. It’s quite a thing. I can’t tell you how good it is for the veterans to have this experience.” Wexler agrees. “It’s the least we can do to repay them for their ser- vice,” he says. “It’s a special experi- ence for everyone involved.”

PHOTO: SEAN SHANAHAN Serving a Purpose

As I travel around the country to visit our chapters and councils, I become more aware and appreciative of the many noteworthy commu- nity service projects members take on — almost always to little or no recognition or fanfare. I call these projects “camaraderie with a purpose.” In many ways, they become a chapter’s mission, and they can help answer the question on many first-time chapter visitors’ minds: “What does your chapter do?” Chapter members’ relationships oſten go beyond the common core

value of having shared military experiences. When these former military leaders see a problem in their community, they go about fixing it. They don’t need to be told — they simply rise to the occasion and enrich their communities. For many of our chapter members, a group that includes spouses, surviving spouses, and extended family members and friends, this is why they stay involved and support the chapter. Here are just a few instances of ways chapters have demonstrated cama-

raderie with a purpose: support and involvement with veteran treatment courts; planning and conducting local wounded warrior golf tournaments; supporting the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots annual program; host- ing Junior ROTC and college scholarship programs; supporting local initia- tives to help former homeless veterans reintegrate into the community; and the American Flag Protocol Initiative, a program now spreading across the country that educates schoolchildren about the significance of the flag. (To learn more about the ways chapter members support their local communi- ties, see “Service to All Generations,” page 60.) There are just about as many examples of camaraderie with a pur- pose as there are chapters. At MOAA’s annual meeting this month in Arlington, Va., we will recognize the councils and chapters that have won 2016 Levels of Excellence (LOE) awards — truly the “best of the best.” This year we will recognize an unprecedented 180 LOE winners: 121 of MOAA’s best chapters or councils earned five-star awards, while 59 earned four-star awards for their excellent performance as well as contributions to their communities in 2015. Gen. Charles T. “Tony” Robertson Jr., USAF (Ret), chair of MOAA’s board

of directors, will recognize leaders from the winning affiliates during this year’s chairman’s LOE award banquet. Winners will receive a special stream- er to recognize their achievement. This year’s chapter and council LOE win- ners epitomize the most impressive traits of MOAA and its affiliates. Congratulations to all of the LOE winners and to everyone who is making a

difference in their community. If you aren’t already in a chapter, I urge you to join your local chapter. I hope to see you at a future chapter meeting. — Col. Barry Wright, USA (Ret), director, Council and Chapter Affairs


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