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Fran Hendricks
Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)

President’s Welcome

It is my honor to serve as the 54th President of the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA). Initially formed in 1959, the NWFMOA Chapter has been an active participant in matters affecting military personnel, their families, and Veterans who live in our local community. We pride ourselves on the fact, when we hung up our uniforms, we didn’t stop serving.

My first introduction to the NWFMOA Chapter was when I was assigned to Eglin AFB as the 96th Air Base Wing Commander, 2002-2004. I would attend the Chapter’s monthly meetings and keep them informed on what was happening at the base. This was my first encounter with any Military Officer Association of America (MOAA) Chapter. In positions I held after leaving Eglin, I worked very close with MOAA National and saw firsthand their impact on protecting and securing military benefits.  

When I returned to Fort Walton Beach area, I immediately sought membership again in the NWFMOA Chapter. I was ecstatic to be part of this group of men and women who were making such a significant impact in the lives of others. From their scholarship program for graduating high school JROTC cadets to commissary gift cards for junior enlisted families, they were making a difference in our community. Each of these programs continues to grow each year, thereby impacting more people. It is through the generosity of our members’ time, talents, and treasure, coupled with the support of MOAA National and local entities, we are able to do what we do as a Chapter.  

 As the 54th President of the NWFMOA Chapter, I would like to extend to you an invitation to check us out. Google NWFMOA and look at our 5-star website, to include our monthly award-winning newsletter, The Defender. Make a reservation to join us for our monthly lunch meeting…good food, great comradery, and a guest speaker speaking on topics of interest.  Our dues are modest at $25 per year. For new members, that covers the current year and the entire next year. Please feel free to contact me at president@nwfmoa.org for more information.

H2S (Here to Serve),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


June 15, 2024

2024 Mid-Year Progress Report

As we enter the second half of 2024, our 65th year serving the community, I thought I would give a brief recap of what we have done and what we have scheduled for the second half of the year.

January…The NWFMOA Board was sworn in. First Sergeants from our surrounding installations joined us for lunch in January and provided feedback regarding the impact of the Commissary Gift Cards for Junior Enlisted Families. RECAP: Through your generous donations and those of other likeminded military associations, Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Councils, and local businesses coupled with a $1,800 grant from the MOAA Foundation, we purchased 300 $25 Commissary gift cards (totaling $7,500) and had the First Sergeants distributed them to Junior Enlisted Families in need. We participated in the American Legion’s Oratorical Scholarship program as guest judges and tabulators. Also in January, NWFMOA Members began receiving their 65th Anniversary Commemorative Coins. If you haven’t received yours yet, all you need to do is attend a NWFMOA event. Each coin is numbered.

 February…We held our first of four Officers Calls at Doc’s Oyster Bar. For planning purposes, every month that there is a fifth Thursday, we will hold an Officers Call. We conducted our Second Annual Valentines for Veterans tribute at Bob Hope Village in conjunction with Longwood Elementary School. We submitted a grant proposal in support of our Junior Enlisted Gift Card Program to the MOAA Foundation.

March…We were notified by MOAA National that the Chapter, Website, and our newsletter (The Defender) received its highest rating…5 Stars for 2022. We submitted our 2023 Level of Excellence submissions to MOAA National for 2023. 

April…We once again participated in the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Military Family Appreciation Day at the Landing. This year we partnered with Zaxby’s and gave away gift cards to their restaurant. Our partnership with Longwood Elementary expanded to our participating in their Read Across America program. We participated in seven local high schools JRTOTC Award Ceremonies where we recognized deserving Cadets in front of their families, teachers, and fellow Cadets. We introduced a new feature in The Defender…Mascot of the Month. We welcome all pets to be featured…just send us a photo of your pet.

May…We held our Annual Scholarship Luncheon where we recognized 10 JROTC and 2 ROTC Cadets with scholarships totaling $39,500. At the Florida Council of Chapters Annual Convention, NWFMOA was recognized again as a premier MOAA Chapter earning 5-Star Awards for the Chapter, our newsletter (The Defender), and website for 2023. We held our second Officers Call at Doc’s Oyster Bar.

June…Our June meeting fell on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. It was truly fitting that our lunch speaker, Lt Col Steve Snow, USAF Retired, former Air Force One pilot, shared during his presentation pictures of him being at Normandy with President Reagan for the 40th Anniversary. Fellow NWFMOA Members Jeff Watson and Al Bills were in France during the 80th Anniversary. The MOAA Foundation notified us we were awarded a $3,000 grant for our Junior Enlisted Gift Card Program. In our grant submission, we stated we would match their grant award amount. All proceeds from our monthly 50/50 will go towards this specific community outreach endeavor. Thank you in advance for your continued generosity.

 As we look to the second half of the year, our 65th Anniversary, we have more great speakers on tap, two more officer calls, our Junior Enlisted Gift Card Program at Thanksgiving, Wreaths Across America, our Annual Military Ball, and a visit by the MOAA National President. I look forward to joining you at each of these events.

 H2S (Here to Serve),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


May 11, 2024

Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell Out of the Way

There is absolutely no place for antisemitism and “death to America and Israel” chants in the United States I revere. As a former university president, I am concerned with what is happening at some of our colleges and universities. I am concerned that some of my former colleagues have surrendered their positions of trust and leadership to the threat of being cancelled…Heavy is the head that wears the crown. If they believe in antisemitism and the destruction of America, or they are not strong enough to stand up and fight against it, then it’s time for them to resign. Being a college president is a huge responsibility and it is not for the weak-kneed.

Families send their children to college with the intent to get an education that will prepare them for their chosen profession. While there, they can expect their children will meet individuals from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. This is the part of the college experience that prepares them for the world beyond what they have been exposed to thus far in their young lives. This is where a greater view of the world is formed, and you learn to navigate discourse. This is the true college experience.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting individually with each JROTC cadet who applied for one of our scholarships after their interviews with the scholarship board. We talked about what to expect during their first year in college…everything from classes to student activities. And how important it is to get the full college experience without falling prey to going along with the crowd to fit in. To have the courage to say no when everyone else is saying yes. We talked about the military that awaits them upon their commissioning and their role as future leaders. I bluntly reminded them that being an ROTC cadet indicates a desire to serve in the military as an officer and that career opportunity could be lost if they didn’t recognize when it is time to leave or dissent when things get stupid or challenge your moral compass.

Without any reservation, I can report each of the cadets is ready for the rigors of college and the unique requirements of ROTC. I am confident these cadets will rise to the occasion and do what is right when faced with the challenges that await each of them. They are ready for take their next step towards preparing to lead the one percent who commit to defending our liberty and freedom.

College presidents facing unrest on their campuses would be well served to embrace the core values of their respective ROTC units and the leadership example of their cadets. It’s time for all college presidents to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

Here to Serve (H2S),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


April 13, 2024

 


NWFMOA Earns 5-Stars
For Chapter, Website and The Defender

                                           NWFMOA Scores 5 Stars Across the Board

MOAA National has announced its 2023 Harris Communication Awards and its Level of Excellence Awards. Northwest Florida Military Officer Association received 5 Star Awards for its website, newsletter (The Defender), and the Chapter. The 5 Star Award is MOAA’s highest level of recognition and is awarded annually.
 
This marks the seventh straight year NWFMOA has received a 5 Star Harris Communication Award for its website and a five Star Harris Communication Award for its newsletter.
 
Congratulations to Fred Westfall who has been our webmaster for this entire run. He arguably has built and maintains the best website in MOAA.
 
Congratulations to all who contributed to The Defender in 2023. Worthy of special recognition are Fred Westfall (Defender Editor) and monthly contributors Dave Parisot (NWFMOA Scholarship Fund, Community Outreach, Legislative Forum), Tom Azar and Ray Alexander (Chaplain’s Corner), Dan Brown (Ads)—your authored features and photos have made The Defender a must read and a historical repository of the Chapter’s activities and member recognition.
 
To the 2023 NWFMOA Board (Karl Eschmann, George Colton, Fred Westfall, Ray Alexander, Bob Allen, Bob Gramm, and Dick Solt), this grand achievement of a 5 Star Level of Excellence Award was accomplished on your watch—congratulations to all on a job well done. This marks the ninth time since 2014 that the Chapter has been awarded a 5 Star Level of Excellence designation. (The Chapter did not submit for a LOE award in 2019 due to COVID). 
 
To all my fellow NWFMOA Chapter Members, it’s an honor to be associated with a group of men and women committed to Camaraderie with Purpose. To be named among the handful of MOAA Chapters nationwide to be recognized with three 5 Star Awards is a significant accomplishment and indicative of your untiring commitment to excellence and service. Thank you for the opportunity you have afforded me to serve as our Chapter’s President.
 
In closing I draw upon the Navy SEAL axiom…the only easy day was yesterday.  Now, we train our focus on sustaining this level of excellence as we continue to make a difference in the lives of those who have served, are presently serving, or have indicated a desire to serve. 2024 is NWFMOA’s next great year!
H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President

April 13, 2024

Your Chapter Needs You!

The Northwest Florida Military Officers Association, first formed in 1959, has distinguished itself as a difference maker in our community for 65 years. That difference maker has changed lives as seen in our numerous community outreach initiatives…Commissary Gift Cards to Junior Enlisted families at Thanksgiving, purchasing and placing wreaths on Veterans graves at Beal Memorial Cemetery, providing clothing to our homeless Veterans, and awarding scholarships to graduating JROTC and college ROTC Cadets pursuing a commission. The success of these initiatives is because we are part of a Chapter that cares and is willing to step up, contribute, and lead when call upon. It is for these reasons I come to you now…your Chapter needs you! 

Your Chapter needs to fill several key leadership positions. We need a Treasurer. Our current Treasurer, Bill Hunter, is PCSing to the Washington, DC area to fill a key position in the DoD.  This is a short-fused request for backfill as Bill was just hired and needs to be in place by early May. Bill’s replacement will find the books financially sound, squared away, and processes and procedures in place for a smooth handoff and continued operation.

We also need to fill the following positions held by Fred Westfall by the end of the year—Secretary, Web Master, Editor of the Defender, Monthly Lunch Coordinator, and Event Photographer.  Fred has done these jobs superbly for 10 years. He has created templates for each position thereby making the transition for his replacement seamless.

I can assure you that raising your hand to assume any of these positions will greatly help the Chapter and will be self-gratifying. You will become a part of a great Board charged with ensuring we continue to make a difference in the lives of our members and the community we serve. Also, the view is spectacular from these positions. You will be a key part of the decision-making process as we strive to be the very best in our quest of Comradery with Purpose.

I respectfully request you consider this as a personal invitation from me to fill one of these key positions because Your Chapter Needs You! 

Here to Serve (H2S),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


March 13, 2024

Military Family Appreciation Day

On Saturday, April 20th, the NWFMOA will once again participate in the Annual Military Family Appreciation Day at the Fort Walton Beach Landing. This annual event is hosted by the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and will commence at 11 AM and end at 5 PM.

Unlike in past years where we had just an information booth, this year we will have an interactive game for all to participate in while we inform them of the Chapter’s rich history in making a difference in the lives of others who have served, are presently serving, or who have expressed an interest in serving. The game we will be playing is abridged corn hole. Rather than playing a complete game to 21 points, each contestant will get three attempts to land one bag in the hole. If they do so, we will capture their name for drawings on the hour (noon, 1 pm, 2pm…5pm) for a family gift card to a local restaurant. Must be present to win. If during their three tries they don’t get a bag in the hole, but do land a bag on the corn hole table, they will receive a discount food coupon from Zaxby’s. Thank you to the Fort Walton Beach Chamber for orchestrating this partnership with Zaxby’s. When the Chamber told Zaxby’s who we are, what we do in the community, and that we were looking for a restaurant to partner with, Zaxby’s said, “We would love to partner with the NWFMOA”.

Volunteers to man the NWFMOA corn hole booth are needed. Shifts will be from 11AM to 1PM; 1PM to 3PM; and 3pm to 5pm. Please consider coming out and being part of the fun. Please contact Fred Westfall or me if you are interested. Thank you.

Here to Serve (H2S),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


February 16, 2024

65th Anniversary Celebration - MOAA President to Visit Chapter

Last year while attending the Florida Council of Chapters (FCoC) Leadership Training Seminar in January, I mentioned to Lt Gen Brian Kelly, USAF Retired, and President of MOAA that NWFMOA would be celebrating its 65th Anniversary in 2024 and we would be honored for him to come and celebrate with us. He stated that he would do his best to be there. Fast forward to this year’s FCoC Leadership Training Seminar, where I presented Gen Kelly a formal invitation to visit our Chapter in May as we celebrate our 65 years serving the community. Gen Kelly accepted our invitation. His proposed itinerary includes breakfast with the Crispy Warriors, attending our Annual Scholarship Luncheon, visiting the Air Force Enlisted Village to receive the Victory Village briefing, office calls, and giving the keynote address at our 65th Anniversary Reception at the Air Force Armament Museum on the evening of May 2nd. Plenty of opportunities for members of NWFMOA to interact with our National President and for him to see our Chapter up close and personal. More to follow…

NWFMOA Awarded 5-Star Level of Excellence (LOE) Award (2022)

The Chapter was recently notified that it was awarded a 5-Star LOE Award for 2022. This marks the eight 5-Star Award that NWFMOA has received since 2014. Congratulations to then Chapter President Michael Griffith, his Board, and the entire Chapter. This award combined with the two previously received 5-Star Harris Communication Awards for our newsletter (The Defender) and our Website (thank you Fred Westfall) clearly indicates we had a great and impactful 2022. Congratulations to all!

NWFMOA Award Submissions for 2023

The Chapter recently submitted its submissions for the Harris Communication Awards (Newsletter and Website) and the Level of Excellence Award for 2023. You can read those submissions HERE.

We are now focused on building upon those prior successes while we also celebrate our 65 years of serving the community. NWFMOA…Comradery with Purpose.

Here to Serve (H2S),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


January 9, 2024

Comradery With a Purpose

The new NWFMOA Board has been installed and is charging hard to make this 65th Anniversary Year a memorable one. Building on the prior 65 years of Comradery with Purpose, the Board has approved its Goals and Tasks for 2024. A quick summary of the 2024 Goals and Tasks follows:

Goal #1…Membership: Increase Chapter membership by 25 new members. With the recently approved bylaws expanding the categories of membership to include Regular, Auxiliary, Associate, and Honorary, we are confident we can attain this goal with candidates who share the same sense of purpose our Chapter was built on. Last year we added 23 new members to the Chapter. Also included in Goal #1…we will host Officer Calls every month there is a fifth Thursday. In fact, our first Officer Call will be Thursday, Feb 29 at Doc’s Oyster Bar in Valparaiso. Later in the year, we plan to challenge the local Junior Officers to the NWFMOA Open—mini (or goofy) golf tournament.

Goal #2… Financial…Be fiscally smart with the Chapter’s funds, thereby finishing the year in the black. The Board set goals to raise $1,000 in Defender ad revenue and $1,000 in 65th Anniversary Banner revenue. These funds will be used primarily to support our Community Outreach Programs and offset any costs associated with the 65th Anniversary.

Goal #3…Military Ball…Host our annual Military Ball in December.

Goal #4…Community Outreach…Continue to conduct Valentines for Veterans, Junior Enlisted Gift Cards, and Wreaths Across America, while also looking for new opportunities to support our local community. We will continue to partner with other likeminded organizations in support of our shared purposes.

Goal #5…Model MOAA Chapter…Be a recognized leader in the State (FCoC) and MOAA.
We will submit our annual chapter LOA and Harris Communication Awards with the intent to earn 5-star awards for each. We will seek appropriate recognition for deserving Chapter members.

Goal #6…65th Anniversary…Celebrate our 65th Anniversary throughout the year. Present each active Chapter member with a 65th Anniversary Commemorative Coin. Host a 65th Anniversary celebration event at the Air Force Armament Museum. Sponsors for the event will be sought with the intent that this function be free to the public. Tentative date is Thursday, May 2, 2024.

Goal #7…Legislative Affairs…Actively support MOAA and local legislative issues. Call to Action emails will be used again to define the issue and inspire action.

 2024 is going to be a historic year for NWFMOA as we celebrate 65 years since our founding in 1959. We are already off to a great start thanks to the untiring efforts of many. For those looking for ways to become more involved, we welcome your involvement. Feel free to contact me or any Board member.

Here to Serve,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
NWFMOA, President


December 16, 2023

2023 In Review

Well, as we start this historic new year for the NWFMOA Chapter, our 65th, I thought I would give a quick summary of the year that just closed out. 2023 was a special year for NWFMOA as you will see in all that we accomplished as a Chapter. The year and the direction we pursued can best be summed up as Comradery With Purpose. Here are some of the highlights from 2023. As we have in the past, we will continue to build upon these impactful events as we strive to make a difference in the lives of others as we celebrate 65 years of serving our local community in 2024.

Year 2023 in Review:

Increase the awareness of being a NWFMOA Member

  • Implemented free luncheon meal during Member’s birth month.

  • Monthly trivia question in The Defender…get it correct and have your name drawn at the next meeting to win a free lunch. Must be present to win. (This is just one of the many contributions made by Fred Westfall).

  • Created a calendar of events…posted on NWFMOA Webpage.

  • Launched our Facebook page. (Huge kudos to Jim Shoff for making this happen). Everyone is invited to post information that you feel is important to NWFMOA. We welcome pictures and stories from the past and present. This is our page to communicate with each other and the community.

 Membership

  • Added 23 new Members.

  • Established New Member Welcome Aboard feature in The Defender.

  • Established Member Spotlight feature in The Defender.

  • Hosted Officer Calls…great time and place to share stories from our time in uniform. (Kudos to Dick Solt for leading this effort).

  • The Annual Military Ball was a resounding success. Karl Eschmann spearheaded the event and was helped by several Members...Dave Swanick, Dave Parisot, George Colton, Fred Westfall, and numerous others who donated items for the auction. Money raised will be used to fund Chapter initiatives in 2024.   

 Increase Community Outreach Impact

  • Partnered with Longwood Elementary School and Bob Hope Village and initiated Valentines for Veterans…125 handmade Valentine Cards were made and delivered by the Longwood 2nd Graders to residents of Bob Hope Village.

  • Awarded $29,500 in scholarships. (Great job NWFMOA Scholarship Fund)

  • Participated in FWB Chamber’s Veterans Appreciation at the Landing.

  • Applied for and received two MOAA National Grants. Was one of only four Chapters nationwide to receive two grants. (Huge kudos to Dave Parisot for writing and submitting the grant application).

    • Received a $2,300 grant for the Veteran Standdown. Outfitted 58 Veterans with jeans, hoodies, underwear, socks, hats, and gloves.

    • Received a $1,500 grant to purchase Commissary Gift Cards at Thanksgiving for E-4 and Below families. During the first three years of this initiative, we reached a total of 598 junior enlisted families. In 2023, we leverage the $1,500 grant and raised an additional $6,000 thereby allowing us to reach 300 junior enlisted families. (MOAA Foundation, NWFMOA Members, and the local community are commended for their incredible generosity). 

  • Chuck Merkel was the Master of Ceremonies for the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Repatriation of the Vietnam War POWs.

  • We partnered with the DAR in conducting their Recognition Ceremony for Veterans of the Vietnam War. Jeff Watson served as the moderator, while Karl Eschmann, Patrick Johnson, and I served as panelist. Many of our Members were personally recognized for their service during the Vietnam War…We greatly appreciate every one of you and your service! 

Be a Recognized Leader in Florida and with MOAA National

  • 3 Chapter Members were recognized with MOAA National President’s Leadership Awards (George Colton, Dave Parisot, Fred Westfall).

  • Chapter earned a 5-Star Award for its Newsletter. (Congratulations to 2022 Defender Editors Mike Griffith and Fred Westfall)

  • The Chapter earned a 5-Star Award for our Webpage. (Congratulations Fred Westfall)

  • 5 Chapter Members were recognized with Florida Council and Chapter Leadership Awards (Dan Brown, George Colton, Dave Parisot, Don Panzenhagen, and Fred Westfall)

  • Karl Eschmann was recently nominated for the DAR Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Award.

Our Chapter continues to do well thanks to the hard work of many. I want to especially thank the Board (Karl Eschmann, Fred Westfall, George Colton, Ray Alexander, Bob Allen, Bob Gramm, Michael Griffith, and Dick Solt) for their leadership and help in guiding our Chapter. In 2024, we will be celebrating 65 years since we were first formed in 1959. We have many things planned to make it another great year for NWFMOA and the community. Please plan to join us as we once again demonstrate Comradery With Purpose.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


November 17, 2023

NWFMOA Partners with the DAR to Recognize Vietnam Veterans

NWFMOA was invited to participate in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Commemorative Celebration for the men and women who served during the Vietnam War. The event took place on Sunday, November 5th at the Air Force Armament Museum.

Many NWFMOA Members were in the audience and were called forward and recognized by name with a commemorative lapel pin and certificate.

Fellow NWFMOA Members participating as part of the official party included Jeff Watson (Master of Ceremonies) and Al Stearns (Benediction). Karl Eschmann and Patrick Johnson were part of a panel of five speakers and shared their experiences while serving in Vietnam. After presenting, they answered questions from the audience. I too was one of the five speakers. I spoke from my experience as a military dependent whose Dad went to Vietnam. My comments follow.

My name is Brig Gen Fran Hendricks, USAF Retired, and I am the proud son of SFC James A. Hendricks, United States Army, a WW II and Vietnam War Veteran. I was 13 years old and going into the 8th grade when Dad received orders for Vietnam. It was 1969.

On the same tarmac in Williamsport, PA as my Dad kissed and hugged us all goodbye, he took me aside and said, “I need you to be the man of the house while I am away on duty”. I say the same tarmac, because 4 years earlier when I was just 9 years old and going into the 4th grade, he gave me the same charge when he was headed to Korea for a year. This time, though it was different. This time, I was older and more aware of what was happening. This time, he was going to war.

Dad served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. His tour of duty was cut short due to severe injuries he sustained because of an explosion at the base camp he was assigned. He would be medivac home and spend the next year in Walter Reed and Valley Forge VA hospitals recovering from his injuries.

I distinctly remember my Mom staying with him for the duration of his recovery. My brother, two sisters, and I stayed with my Aunt and would visit Dad at least twice a month for the next year.  When we would arrive at the hospital, he would assign each of us a room and soldier to visit. Dad worried about these young men on his ward. He worried that for many the distance to travel for their families and girlfriends was too far or their schedules were too busy. Or the sights of their broken bodies were too much to bear. He didn’t want them to be alone. He wanted them to know he cared about them and their successful recovery. I did not know at the time the tremendous impact this would have on me, my brother, and sisters. And the lives and career choices we would make. 

Dad was finally discharged from the hospital and retired from the Army. 25 years in the Service. Two Wars…WWII and Vietnam.

When I went off to college, Dad would occasionally come to campus to visit me. When he did, he always seemed to find students who were pursuing their degrees through the GI Bill.

Long after he returned home, these Veterans would seek me out and ask me about my Dad. How is he doing? And please tell Sarge I am doing fine. When I would go home on break, Dad would always ask about the Student Veterans, by name. He would ask, how are they doing? Tell them if they need anything to call him.

Dad never talked of combat. He didn’t watch war movies. But when I decided to pursue a commission and was commissioned a 2LT our conversations changed and often centered on leading men in combat. What it means to be in charge and responsible for others.

My Dad never got over how the men who fought and served during the Vietnam War era were treated when they returned home. He once told me when he came home from WWII there were ticker tape parades. Today, they come home after fighting a War their country sent them to fight and are spat on, cursed out, and or forgotten. They lost their youth and now carry the scares of War.

While my Dad passed away 4 months after I was commissioned, not a day goes by that I don’t think of the example he set in leading and caring for his men. It was his service and our front row seats that shaped me, my brother, and my two sisters. My brother would also serve in uniform. He retired from the Air Force after 20 years as a MSgt. One of my sisters served an enlistment in the Army, before she and my other sister pursued careers in nursing. My Dad’s service also impacted my son and my brother’s son as both have served and continue to serve in uniform.

The Vietnam War impacted our entire Nation. For all those who served during those tough times, know this, you are an inspiration to all who have followed your lead. It is an honor for me to be here today and share this stage with each of you and to continue to be inspired by your service. To quote Henry the Fifth when he was talking to his men, he said, “From this day to the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered, we lucky few, we Band of Brothers. For he who today sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother.”

To the men and women who served during the Vietnam War, yes, from this day to the end of time, we remember your service and sacrifice. Each of you answered your Nation’s call. Each of you is a hero. So, when the naive or uninformed ask, why did you serve, quote them the following from Homer, the Illiad. “Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, and asks no omen, but his country’s cause.”

God Bless America and God Bless the Men and Women and the families of those who serve and sacrifice to keep her free. God Bless the DAR for all their efforts to bring this long overdue recognition to those who served during the Vietnam War.

Thank you.

The opportunity to partner with the DAR on this important recognition ceremony was both an honor and a gift as we gathered to honor all who served during the Vietnam War. The DAR called many NWFMOA Members’ names as they conducted a roll call.

On behalf of a grateful Nation, thank you for your service. We will never forget the sacrifices you and your families made.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


October 15, 2023

Women’s Veterans Memorial Park

Recently the Okaloosa County Commissioners had a public hearing on expanding the Women’s Veterans Memorial Park. Several fellow NWFMOA Members spoke that day. I was proud to be counted among them. My statement follows.

 Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. My name is Fran Hendricks, and I am proud to be a resident of Okaloosa County and Shalimar. My family and I first came to this area when the Air Force assigned me to Eglin AFB in 2002. We chose to return to the area in 2018 after I retired from my post Air Force career in higher education. My wife and I chose this to be our forever home because of its proximity to Eglin, because of the local community and its superb quality of life, as well as the friends we made while being assigned here. We wanted to be part of a community that supported the military and was led by public officials who revered the constitution and adhered to conservative ideals and values. 

 With my over 40 years in public service, I know firsthand the responsibility placed on each of you as you decide how best to lead our County. I respect each of you for shouldering this task and for doing what you deem to be in the best interest of us all. Today I am here to register my support for expanding the Women Veterans Memorial Park. I applaud this forum for their foresight in establishing this attraction and how it complements our community persona. Whether you live here full time or are a seasonal visitor, this park adds to the tapestry we all call home. We are a tourist destination, and this park adds an additional attraction to see while visiting. Much like the Air Force Armament Museum, in time this park will become a destination—people will visit our area because they are coming to see the park. When they do, they will be educated on the various feats of these amazing women and their impact on our Nation’s history. How ironic it is, when other parts of our Country are tearing down statues and demeaning women by reducing them to “birthing person” or allowing biological males to compete against them in sports, we, on the other hand, are acknowledging women and their significant contributions to our Nation’s history and its future.

 Every time I visit this park, I come away inspired. When you read the plaques that accompany each statue, you marvel at the feats of these ordinary people who did extraordinary acts.  Each of us has the same opportunity each day to make a difference in our community. I believe wholeheartedly that this park can change lives, to inspire greatness in all of us, young and old, male, and female. Every great accomplishment in the world started with a dream. I believe this park can and will provide the spark for future dreams and accomplishments.

 So, as you grapple with County’s budget and its competing priorities to fund, please take a long hard look at the return on investment for expanding this park. In addition to being another great attraction for our tourism portfolio, it has even greater potential to help educate and inspire all who see it, thereby becoming a local, State and National treasure.

 Thank you.

The expansion was unanimously approved by the Commissioners

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA

September 29, 2023

A Call to Action 23-05

Tell Congress to Pay Our Troops

As the start of a new fiscal year draws closer with no agreement in place to fund the government, service members, veterans, and their families face uncertainty, financial stress, and an erosion of trust in their lawmakers – all during a recruiting and retention crisis for the all-volunteer force.

Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO had plenty to say about the impacts of a government shutdown:
“Military members and their families volunteer and are honored to serve and make the needed sacrifices, but they don’t and should not expect to sacrifice their financial security, The all-volunteer force is the backbone of our nation’s national and economic security. We depend on them and hold them accountable … they want and deserve the same dependability and accountability from the elected members of Congress who are charged with supporting them …Government shutdowns and uncertainty of pay and benefits directly contribute to our current recruiting crisis,”

The Pay Our Troops Act HR 5641 would protect military service members and certain Department of Defense civilian employees, contractors and Coast Guard personnel should Congress fail to reach an agreement on a Continuing Resolution in time to prevent any disruption to covering the costs of housing, food security, childcare, medical expenses and other routine daily costs.

Congress has grappled with passing timely annual appropriations for a quarter-century; this year is not any different, and it’s critical for our members to let their lawmakers know that change is long overdue.

Our Senators have indicated their support for this measure, but they still need to be urged to rally their colleagues and see that this bill reaches the finish line and is signed into law.
A more direct request is needed for our House delegation.

Even if a CR does pass to avoid a shutdown, it will have a deadline just a few months downstream. HR 5641 will extend the protection until a permanent funding bill is passed.

CLICK TO TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Elected Officials to Support the Pay Our Troops Act

Please click on the link above to send a letter to each of our Senators and Congressman. If the drafted letter appears with my name on the bottom, please change it to your name. Also add after your name... Member NWFMOA. We want them to know MOAA and NWFMOA are a forces to be reckoned with. Thank you.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


September 14, 2023

From the President's Pen - October 2023

Our guest speaker this month is Col Andy Weaver, USAF Retired. I first met Andy when we were both wing commanders. He commanded Wright-Patterson AFB when I was Eglin’s Installation Commander. We shared the same objectives and challenges. The timeframe was 2002-2004. The War on Terror was at full boil. In addition to deploying expeditionary combat support personnel from our respective wings, we both were charged to keep our bases running optimally for those who were deployed in place or returning from deployment.

In 2007, we found ourselves on the same staff in Dallas, Texas. Andy had just retired and accepted a key leadership position in the Strategic Planning Directorate of the Army Air Forces Exchange Service. I would join Andy on staff as the incoming Vice Commander. So, from 2007-2012, we worked closely together to ensure this very important benefit was understood by field commanders, their troops, and was successful in its execution. This specific timeframe (2007-2012) is often referred to as the Great Recession. Through the hard work and vision of many, to include Andy, we grew the partnerships with the other Service Exchanges, the Defense Commissary Agency, Service MWRs, and our vendors.

During this same timeframe, the War on Terror was still raging. The US military had base camps throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, to name just a few countries. AAFES personnel were assigned to each location providing goods and services that would not otherwise be available. As there were only 60 military personnel assigned to all of AAFES, every AAFES employee who was deployed to one of these base camps was both a NAF Civilian and a volunteer. This was nothing new. Since their formation in 1941, the Exchange has accompanied the troops to wherever they have been assigned. This commitment to service helped forge the motto…We Go Where You Go.

Please plan to join us at the October luncheon and hear how your Exchange is meeting the needs of the troops, their families, retirees, and Veterans.

 H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


September 12, 2023

A Call to Action 23-04

Donations Requested for NWFMOA Community Outreach Program - $25 Commissary Gift Cards for Junior Enlisted Families at Thanksgiving

DONATIONS for NWFMOA COMMUNITY OUTREACH COMMISSARY GIFT CARDS

This is the 4th year that one of our Chapter Community Outreach projects is to distribute Commissary gift cards to junior enlisted families in ranks E-4 and below. Each gift card is for $25. Using gift cards (rather than a food drive) allows the families to purchase food items of their choice at the Base Commissary. We will partner again with the First Sergeant Councils at Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, and the 7th Special Forces Group (A), and the Military Family Readiness Center at Hurlburt Field to distribute the gift cards to their neediest junior enlisted families.

In the past three years we have given out 610 gift cards totaling $15,250. Of this amount, the MOAA Foundation has provided $10,250 through their Community Outreach grants to support our program. With the continued and growing rate of inflation, particularly for food items, the needs and benefits of this outreach program remains high. This year the MOAA Foundation gave us a grant of $1,500. Our goal is to match that amount. This will enable us to get 120 Commissary gift cards into the hands of those junior enlisted families in greatest need.

I respectfully ask you to consider donating for this specific outreach program and help a fellow warrior and their family at Thanksgiving. Please click HERE to fill out the donation form.  Directions on where to mail your donation are on the form.  Or you can bring it to the October or November Chapter luncheon and turn it in there.

Thank you for your continued support of this impactful NWFMOA Community Outreach project. Your donation will make a difference.

 H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


August 21, 2023

Bylaws Revision

When the current NWFMOA Board was seated in January, we began to look at the Chapter’s by-laws. Were they current? Did they need to be updated? We noted Scott Berry was the NWFMOA President the last time the by-laws were reviewed and approved by the Chapter. Hence, we concluded it was time for another look. So, for the past nine months, we have been working on what we feel are needed revisions. You can see our proposed revisions on the NWFMOA webpage. We, as a Chapter, will vote at the November Lunch Meeting, to accept or decline the Board’s recommended changes. I invite all Chapter Members to review the proposed by-laws and contact me or any Board member with any concerns.

 In a nutshell, the proposed revisions make some needed housekeeping updates and some changes that further codify membership eligibility and the role of the Board. A brief synopsis follows.

 Membership: As an IRS recognized 501(c)19 (Veteran Organization), NWFMOA is allowed a couple different categories of membership. They include: Voting Members; Auxiliary Members; Associate Members; and Honorary Members. All pay dues except Honorary Members. Associate Members are limited to 2.5% of the total Chapter Voting Membership.

 Immediate Past-President: Serves as an Ex-Officio Member of the Board and is non-voting.

 Proxies: The Board approved the use of proxies earlier this year. The impacted Board Member notifies the President and Secretary in writing (email) in advance of their pending absence and identifies who will have their proxy. This ensures Chapter business is not impeded by their absence.

 Standing Committees: Budget and Finance Committees have been added.

 Financial Management and Oversight: Here we further clarify the Board’s role in managing and overseeing the financial actions performed by all NWFMOA activities.

 Mandatory Audit: Whenever the President or Treasurer leave office, there is a mandatory audit performed within 30 days.

 By-laws Review: While an amendment to the by-laws can be requested by any Chapter Voting Member at any time, the Board proposes a mandatory review of the by-laws every three years. The next review would be scheduled for 2026.  

 I respectfully request you take the time to review the proposed revisions to our by-laws. We, as a Chapter, will vote to accept or decline these changes at our scheduled monthly meeting in November.

 As an aside, below is a list of our upcoming speakers for the remainder of this year. 

  • September 7, Capt Austin Bury, US Marine Corps (Congressman Gaetz Office)

  • October 5,  Col Andy Weaver, USAF Ret, HQ AAFES

  • November 2, State Rep BG Patt Maney, US Army Reserve Retired

  • December 7, Opus One Niceville High School Choir

H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Ret
President, NWFMOA

___________________________________________________________________________________

Salute to Col Bill Byerley, 43rd President

Col Bill Byerley passed away on July 31, 2023. Bill was a great warrior, leader, friend, and our 43rd Chapter President. He served as president from 2002-2004. It was then that I first met Bill. I was serving as the 96 Air Base Wing Commander (Eglin AFB) and I would attend the NWFMOA monthly breakfast meetings at the Officers Club and provide a monthly update on what was happening on the base. It was through these Chapter meetings that I got to know Bill and NWFMOA and became a member.

Bill’s Memorial Service was held on August 12th at the Shalimar United Methodist Church. The church was filled with family, friends, and many NWFMOA members. In addition to several Ministers who led us in prayer and song, our very own Lt Col Al Sterns reminded all of us of Bill’s life and accomplishments. They were the best of friends. In fact, Al immediately preceded Bill as President, NWFMOA and recruited Bill to be his successor. As a Past President, Bill remained active in the Chapter until his passing.

Bill’s obituary is available HERE. Please know as a Chapter, we have extended an offer of continued service and assistance to Jeanne. We are here for her.

Col Bill Byerley, USAF Retired, we salute you and your service to our Country, our community, and our Chapter. Rest in Peace our Fellow Brother in Arms for we have the Watch.

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Ret
54th President, NWFMOA


July 16, 2023

Progress of the NWFMOA In 2023

Well, it’s been six months since I assumed the gavel and became the President, NWFMOA. I thought I might take a moment and recall where we have been and where we are going as a Chapter. As a Board, in January we set tasks and goals for the Chapter. I am happy to report we are making great progress. Here are some of the highlights of that progress:

  •  Increase the awareness of being a NWFMOA Member

    • Implemented the free luncheon meal during your birth month

    • Get the monthly trivia question in The Defender correct and have your name drawn at the next meeting to win a free lunch. (Must be present to win)

    • Established New Member Welcome Aboard feature in The Defender

    • Created a calendar of events…posted on NWFMOA Webpage

    • Launched our Facebook page. (Huge kudos to Jim Shoff for making this happen. Everyone is invited to post information that you feel is important to NWFMOA. We welcome pictures and stories from the past and present. This is our page to communicate with each other and the community.

  • Membership

    • Added 15 new Members.

  • Increase Community Outreach Impact

  • Partnered with Longwood Elementary School and Bob Hope Village and initiated Valentines for Veterans…125 handmade Valentine Cards were made and delivered by the Longwood 2nd Graders to residents of Bob Hope Village.

  • Participated in FWB Chamber’s Veterans Appreciation at the Landing.

  • Applied for MOAA National Grants Sought and received a $2,500 MOAA National Grant for the Veteran Standdown. (Huge kudos to Dave Parisot for writing and submitting the grant application).

  • Sought and received a $1,300 MOAA National Brant to purchase Commissary Gift Cards at Thanksgiving for E-4 and Below families. Huge kudos to Dave Parisot for writing and submitting the grant application).

  • To Be a Recognized Leader in Florida and with MOAA National

  • We had 3 Chapter Members recognized with MOAA National President’s Leadership Awards (George Colton, Dave Parisot, Fred Westfall).

  • The Chapter earned a 5 Star Award for its Newsletter Congrats Mike Griffith and Fred Westfall).

  • The Chapter earned a 4 Star Award for our Webpage(Congratulations Fred Westfall) .

  • We had 5 Chapter Members recognized with Florida Council and Chapter Leadership Awards (Dan Brown, George Colton, Dave Parisot, Don Panzenhagen, and Fred Westfall).

Our Chapter is doing well thanks to the hard work of many. I want to thank the Board, Dave Parisot, and Jim Shoff for making our Chapter stronger. We will be looking for replacements for some key roles in next year’s Board as we celebrate our 65 years in existence. Please consider volunteering. We have a good time as a Board…it’s not a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun.

 H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Ret
President, NWFMOA


July 4, 2023

Happy Independence Day

On this 247th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, I wish you, your family, and friends a Happy 4th of July. As the NWFMOA, we have much to be proud of…each of our members’ service, their family’s sacrifices, and the contributions we as a Chapter have made to the Fort Walton Beach area for the past 64 years. Enjoy this day of celebration and know this…you are all part of the great tapestry we call America.

 H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Ret
President, NWFMOA


June 22, 2023

Korean War Rembrance
Please see the post by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Fran Hendricks
President NWFMOA

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 


June 17, 2023

NWFMOA’s Role in Identifying and Recognizing Future Military Officers

I thought I would give a brief recap of some happenings this past month. First, Fred Westfall and I attended the Florida Council of Chapters (FCoC) Convention in St Augustine, FL. While there we engaged with MOAA National staff members, to include Gen Kelly, the MOAA President, the senior leadership of FCoC, and Chapter leaders from across the state. Of special note was the opportunity to meet with CAPT Frank Michael, USN Ret, MOAA National and NWFMOA Member). It was great to see Frank. He proudly registered for the Convention as a member of NWFMOA!


At the President’s Reception, NWFMOA was honored with multiple awards…I had Fred accept two Col Marvin J. Harris Communication Awards for the Chapter. We received a 4-Star Award for our website and a 5-Star Award for our newsletter, The Defender. We also had three members of the Chapter (Fred Westfall, George Colton, and Dan Brown) recognized and awarded FCoC Leadership Awards. A great night for NWFMOA!

Talk about hitting a homerun...the MOAA Foundation awarded 46 grants this year to 42 Chapters nationwide...28% of all the grants went to a FL Chapter. NWFMOA was 1 of 4 nationwide to receive 2 grants and 1 of 2 in FCoC to receive 2 grants!! We received $4,300 in total grant money (a $300 increase over last year)! Great job Dave Parisot!!

Day 2 was chalked full of meetings and opportunities to engage with MOAA National and other Florida Chapters. Some important take aways:

Surviving Spouses need to check to make sure their tax withholding has not been reduced or eliminated. Numerous cases of such action were reported after the death of the MOAA member. 

Pat Green (Surviving Spouse Chair) has created a trifold for Surviving Spouses. It is presently at MOAA National for review/publication. Once completed and available, we will request copies for our Surviving Spouses.  SBP Open Season ends Dec 31. (This is key info for our members who have remarried).

You can pre-register for burial in a Veteran Cemetery. Surviving Spouses comprise 25% of MOAA’s Members

Letter of Excellence…Nationally, 107 LOE submissions were submitted. This year MOAA National will implement a 3-Star rating. (NWFMOA submitted its LOE in March…we look forward to seeing how we scored).

Legislative Update…Discussed importance of sending letters and cards to our elected officials on topics which protect our earned benefits. 

FCOC Board Meeting with MOAA CEO (Gen Kelly)…Special meeting for FCoC Board and AVPs. I was asked to attend to represent NWF area. Gen Kelly reminded us that MOAA is bipartisan, not apolitical. We must work with both parties to be effective in protecting the earned benefits of those who have served. It is important for our elected officials to keep their word regarding earned benefits, otherwise the current generation of those who served will not promote serving to the next generation.

Day 3 was meetings focused on 2024. Starting in 2024, Chapters will be rewarded for scoring well on their self-assessment. Those in Green will be awarded $100. A Chapter deemed most improved will be awarded $250. We are presently Green. Congratulations...Let’s keep leading the charge.

In closing, the FCoC Chaplain briefed us on FireWatch…a Veteran Suicide Prevention effort. A flyer describing the effort and the need for Veteran Volunteers is available on page 12 of this publication.

Convention Ended. We cleared the hotel and began the 5+ hour drive home. 

NWFMOA Facebook is alive and thriving. Please check it out and join our group. Big kudos to Jim Shoff for getting this up and running.

FPL presented the NWFMOA Scholarship Fund with a check for $3,600. Dave Parisot and I received the check from Bernard Johnson, FPL, at the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast in front of all assembled Chamber Members. Of special note, Bernard will be our guest speaker at our monthly luncheon on July 6th. Please plan to join us.

Ted Corcoran, President/CEO Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, hosted a meeting between NWFMOA and Operation Holiday Cheer. At the meeting both entities discussed the purpose of their community outreach program. The Chamber expressed interested in helping us both reach our targeted recipients.   

In closing, it was another great month for NWFMOA. Thank you to all for your commitment to Never Stop Serving.

H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


May 26, 2023

Memorial Day…A Time to Remember

On this Memorial Day Weekend, please take time to remember those who gave their lives while serving in the defense of our great nation. They were fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighbors, and friends.  To all, they are heroes.  They were common folks, who lived uncommon lives. Many, who we honor this weekend, gave their lives far from home as they served to protect us and to defend our freedoms.  It’s their service and sacrifice that we remember.  In remembering them, I ask that you also remember and pray for their families and friends who mourn their lost every day. 

When a revolution needed to be waged and a Union needed to be saved, these common men and women left their homes and families and took up arms for the sake of freedom and its defense.  From Bunker Hill to Gettysburg, from Pearl Harbor, the beaches of Normandy and Korea’s frozen Chosen Reservoir to the jungles of Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan, they stepped forward and answered their Nation’s call.  Drafted or volunteered for duty, they fought for a home they may never return to; they fought for buddies they would never forget; they fought for you, and they fought for me.  And while their stories maybe separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, their service and their sacrifice remind each of us of the cost of freedom.  Freedom is not free.  It cost us our most precious treasure…it costs us our loved ones.

This weekend, we come together as Americans, to pray, to reflect and to remember these fallen veterans, these heroes, their sacrifices, and the sacrifices born by their families and friends. There is an inscription carved into the stone memorial at the Omaha Beach Cemetery in France which sums up why we celebrate Memorial Day.  It reads:  “To these we owe the highest resolve, that the cause for which they died, shall live”.  Cemeteries across our Nation will adorn the graves of these past Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with American flags, they too are forever counted among our Nation’s heroes.  President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

While the Nation remembers its heroes this weekend, I am proud to be part of an organization that honors and remembers their sacrifice every day through our actions.  To our fallen Brothers and Sisters, rest in peace for we have the watch.

 H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


May 20, 2023

President's Pen from the June 2023 Defender - NWFMOA’s Role in Identifying and Recognizing Future Military Officers

Looking back, May was the crescendo of Chapter Member and local business donations to our scholarship program, the culmination of many months of coordination with the local schools, review of scholarship submissions, interviews of cadets, consensus of the selection committee on scholarship award recipients, and finally, the award of our Chapter’s Scholarships at the annual scholarship luncheon. Dave Parisot and his Scholarship Fund Committee comprised of Fred Westfall, George Colton, Bob Allen, Karl Eschmann, and Charles Farmer (Senior JROTC Instructor at Niceville High School) made 2023 another outstanding year. As a committee, they awarded nine scholarships totaling nearly $30,000 to 8 JROTC graduating seniors and 1 College ROTC junior. Nearly 100 people attended the Annual NWFMOA Scholarship and Awards Luncheon where the cadets were awarded their scholarships and the audience learned of their outstanding academic and leadership accomplishments. Local media was present and covered the lunch for its news worthiness. The Scholarship Fund Committee is commended for once again raising the bar. I also commend them for their dedication to attend each of the local high school JROTC Awards events throughout the month of May. Crisscrossing the counties we serve, they ensured NWFMOA had a presence at each of these important daytime or evening assemblies of cadets and parents. 

Also in May, I had the distinct pleasure to give the Commissioning Address at the Commissioning Ceremony of the AFROTC Cadets from the University of South Alabama and University of West Florida. The ceremony was held at the National Navy Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola. A fitting place to capture this historical moment—where everywhere we looked was a reminder of the sacrifices and successes of those who had gone before us. Of the 16 cadets commissioned, Cadet Blayne Johnson, the first recipient of our then newly forged College ROTC Scholarship in 2022, was one of them. 2LT Johnson will now report to NAS Pensacola for Combat Systems Officer training.    

 One line from my address simply stated, “Life is about choices…You can be in the arena or in the stands…Each of you has chosen to be in the thick of it…I applaud your choice”. It was an honor to witness them take the same oath we took, and I am confident they will rise to the challenges that await them. Looking into the eyes of those eager and newly minted officers, you could see our Nation’s future and it is in good hands.

 Once again, NWFMOA has made a difference. Through your generosity, our Nation’s future is bright because the bench we are helping to build is deep with individuals willing to proudly serve and protect our freedoms. Thank you to all for your commitment to this important role of the NWFMOA.

Never Stop Serving.

H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


May 17, 2023

President's Pen from the May 2023 Defender - In Pursuit of 5 Stars

Well, it is that time of year again when MOAA Chapters across the nation submit their Levels of Excellence submissions. These submissions are akin to a self-assessment of what your respective Chapter did the past year across several graded areas. In turn, they are graded by a panel comprised of Directors from the National MOAA Board. Historically, the NWFMOA has done exceptionally well and has been awarded MOAA’s highest award, a 5-Star rating, as recent as 2020. (We did not submit a submission in 2021 due to COVID).

 Our 2023 submission (covers 2022) highlighted the many outstanding things the Chapter did last year. Those highlights included pursuing and receiving a MOAA Community Outreach Grant for $4,000. We used those funds, combined with $2.300 in donations from Chapter Members, 3 Military Affairs Councils, and the Eglin AFA Chapter, to purchase 252 Commissary gift cards at $25 each for E4 and below personnel. The Commissary gift cards were distributed to 252 active-duty Airman and Soldier families by the Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, and the Army 7th Special Forces Group (A) First Sergeant Associations and the Hurlburt’s Airman, Family & Readiness Center to purchase food at the base commissaries at Thanksgiving.

 We highlighted our advocacy efforts. Those efforts included sending a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs regarding their inaccurate assessment of the Okaloosa County Schools. We claimed this inaccurate assessment directly impacts retention of the military assigned to our local area or those who have received orders reassigning them to one of our bases. Additionally, we sent letters to Senator Rubio, Senator Scott, and Congressman Gaetz regarding the Child Care needs at Camp Bull Simons. We applauded their efforts to get involved in solving this long-standing issue. This issue is both a retention and quality of life matter affecting primarily the 7th Special Forces Group at Camp Bull Simons.

 We were active in the local community. We manned a NWFMOA information booth at the Duke Field Open House which was celebrating their 50th Anniversary. We made a stage presentation at the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce First Friday assembly. Over 300 Chamber members were informed of NWFMOA’s mission and our commitment to service. We expanded our scholarship program to include two University of West Florida ROTC junior or senior cadets who graduated from one of our local high schools and are on track to commission. All totaled, we awarded over $17,000 in scholarships to five outstanding Cadets. We highlighted our Military Ball and its importance to our Chapter.

 2022 was a very good year for the NWFMOA. With COVID restrictions in our rearview mirror, we were once again pursuing our mission with vigor and making a difference in the lives of those presently serving, those who have served, and those who want to serve.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


April 20, 2023

President's Pen from the April 2023 Defender

Camaraderie is an important component of our Chapter and has been since our establishment nearly 65 years ago. It is one of the four components of our mission tetrad and a major reason to be a member. This past month on March 9th, we had the pleasure to be part of history at the Air Force Armament Museum as Okaloosa County celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the repatriation of the Vietnam POWs. Those honored included Brigadier General George “Bud” Day, (a former NWFMOA Member); Colonel Richard Dutton, USAF Retired; Colonel Keith Hall, USAF Retired; Col Howard Hill, USAF Retired (former NWFMOA Vice President); Colonel Ed Hubbard, USAF Retired; Col Ron Webb, USAF Retried; Lieutenant Colonel Dave Gray, USAF Retired; and Mr. Ken Frazer, former USAF Captain. This event served as our quarterly Officer Call.

Numerous NWFMOA members served in key roles for the evening. Chuck Merkel served as the evening’s historian and moderator, giving all in attendance a description of the Vietnam War period, the atrocities endured by our POWs, and the courage, sacrifice and tenacity of those being honored. Chaplain Tom Azar gave the invocation. Fred Westfall was in attendance, just as he was 50 years ago on the tarmac of Clark Air Base, Philippines when the POWs made their first stop after leaving Hanoi, Vietnam. Fred was a Captain then, assigned to 13th Air Force. Honorary NWFMOA Member, Jerry Williams, CEO Eglin Federal Credit Union was a sponsor for this historic event. NWFMOA Board Member Bob Allen and Past President Elvira Chiccarelli serve as volunteers at the museum and were there helping. New NWFMOA Member, Col Kim Wintner (Air Force Armament Museum Foundation Treasure) was there, as were many, many other chapter members. It was a great turnout for NWFMOA. And I had the great honor to give welcoming comments while wearing my Vice President of the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation hat.

NWFMOA extends kudos to Ted Corcoran, Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce (it was his idea to conduct this event); Tom Rice, Magnolia Grill (Food); Voices of NW Florida; Props Craft Brewery (Beer); Forever Warriors, Powered by First Step Automotive; Docies Dock (Wine); Connect with Flowers; Voices of Northwest Florida State College; and the Eglin AFB Honor Guard. We are fortunate to live in a community that is so supportive of those presently serving and its Veterans. Camaraderie sets us apart and was on full display at this event. In addition to those participating in the program, our members showed up in large numbers to honor the POWs and to engage the community. In the future when I am talking with a perspective NWFMOA member about joining our Chapter, I will add the happenings of this evening to my arsenal of reasons I share. I respectfully request you do the same.

H2S (Here to Serve),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired

President, NWFMOA


March 30, 2023  -  CALL to ACTION 23-03

A Call To Action: Tricare for Life Fees and Cost Sharing

Fellow NWFMOA Chapter Members,

If you havent read Dave Parisots Legislative Liaison feature in the April Defender, I strongly encourage you to do so. In the article you will learn the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has made two recommendations regarding our Tricare for Life (TFL) benefit. Both recommendations (if enacted) would cost us significant more money in fees and deductibles to use our earned benefit if Congress doesn’t act to stop it.

  CBO Recommendation #1 (Fees)...We would be required to pay an enrollment fee of $575 (individual) or $1,150 (family) for TFL coverage.

  CBO Recommendation #2 (Cost-Sharing)…We would be required to pay a deductible of $850. After the deductible ($850) is met, TFL would pay only 50% of the next $7,650 in Medicare expenses. 

If you agree this is wrong (as I do) and want to join MOAA’s efforts to have these recommendations thwarted, I respectfully request you send the Act Now! message that MOAA has drafted regarding this topic to Representative Gaetz, Senator Scott and Senator Rubio. You can access the Act Now! message to our elected leaders by going to our website (nwfmoa.org) and clicking on the take action button on the bottom of our page. Feel free to make changes to the proposed wording of the message. I also recommend in addition to your name at the bottom of the Act Now! message you add NWFMOA Member. We want our elected representatives to know we are advocates for matters important to our members and the military / Veteran community we serve.

You can also click HERE to TAKE ACTION on this MOAA initiative. 

Thank you.
H2S
Fran Hendricks, Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
NWFMOA President
March 30, 2023  - CTA 23-02

A Call To Action: H.R.1413, The Expanding America's National Cemetery Act

Fellow NWFMOA Chapter Members,

MOAA National is advocating for authorizing the transformation of a VA-run national cemetery into the next location that affords military honors as Arlington National Cemetery reaches capacity. This is a long-term solution and needs our support. Florida has the second largest number of military retirees – 210,073. We need to advise Congressman Gaetz to protect the benefit of in-ground burial with full military honors for all who plan for internment or inurnment at a DoD managed National Cemetery.

I respectfully request you go to the MOAA website’s Advocacy page and send the Act Now! message that MOAA has drafted regarding this topic to Representative Gaetz. If you want, you can change the proposed wording to your liking. I also recommend in addition to your name at the bottom of the Act Now! message you add NWFMOA Member. We want our elected representatives to know when NWFMOA comes up on the net regarding an issue important to our members and the military / Veteran community we serve.

Click HERE to TAKE ACTION on this MOAA initiative.

Thank you.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
NWFMOA President


March 3, 2023


Happy 108th Birthday to the Navy Reserve

One hundred and eight years ago today, the Navy Reserve was formed in 1915 in response to the outbreak of World War I. Fully constituted, it made up nearly 84% of the Navy’s fighting force during the war. Among its ranks were 5 future U.S. Presidents and 15 Medal of Honor recipients. Since its inception, the Navy Reserve has been part of every major war the US has fought.

If you get a chance today, raise a glass and toast the Navy Reserve.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA

February 28, 2023  -  CTA 23-01

A Call To Action: Major Richard Star Act

Fellow Chapter Members,

Your assistance is needed. Last year, the efforts of MOAA and their partners in The Military Coalition came close to having Congress enact the Major Richard Star Act. That legislation is solely focused on supporting 50,000 combat-injured Veterans whose retirement pay is reduced by the amount they receive for disabilities due to combat. This is wrong and needs to be righted. Undeterred and fully committed to seeing the Star Act passed, MOAA and The Military Coalition are again engaging Congress and could use your help. They simply ask each of us to contact our elected officials and state our support. They have made it very easy for us to make that contact. Just use this link provided by MOAA: contacting your senators and representative TODAY . It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and it will send a letter directly from you to Senator Rubio, Senator Scott, and Representative Gaetz. I have sent my letters of support and respectfully request you do the same.  The Major Richard Star Act is a necessary step towards concurrent receipt for all.

To view the conversation about this, click HERE. To send a letter to your representatives, click HERE
.

H2S,

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


February 14, 2023

For nearly 65 years, the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA), an affiliate of the Military Officer Association of America, has been making a difference in the lives of Veterans in the Okaloosa and Walton Counties. One of its community outreach initiatives this year was to partner Bob Hope Village with Longwood Elementary School, whereby second grade students made Valentines and delivered them to the residents on Valentine’s Day. This endeavor allowed the students to express their appreciation for the service and sacrifices made by this Veteran community and their families through the gift of a handmade Valentine. The students presented their Valentines to the residents during the annual Valentine Day Brunch at Bob Hope Village.

 Valentines for Vets was first enacted in 1996 by General Ron Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, and was intended to support the Department of Veteran Affairs weeklong National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans. Today, the VA has expanded the salute to the entire month of February and has renamed it, National Salute to Veteran Patients Month.   

The NWFMOA invites everyone to recognize a Veteran’s service and sacrifice especially on Valentine’s Day.  To view additional pictures, click on the picture to the right or HERE.

The Air Force Enlisted Village also posted a nice article on their website.  The contents of that article are below.


Valentines for Veterans Visit Bob Hope Village

by Taylar Banks

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and Longwood Elementary partnered to bring Valentines for Veterans at Bob Hope Village.

Shalimar, FL (February 14, 2023) - With markers, pencils, crayons, and glue sticks in hand, second-grade students from Longwood Elementary happily created Valentine’s Day cards with woodland animals not knowing the impact they would soon have. With pep in their step, the students proudly walked over to the Bob Hope Village Commons with smiles on their faces and Valentine’s Day cards in their hands.

The students were immediately met with applause and cheer from a ballroom filled with Bob Hope Village residents awaiting the young artists.

Happily, the children disbursed their hand-made cards and chimed in with conversations with residents who are retired military surviving spouses or couples. There were 125 beautiful Valentine’s Day cards made by the students and twenty-five children delivered them to Bob Hope Village. “The kids had a blast even walking here,” said Lisa Jones, assistant principal of Longwood Elementary.

Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA) coordinated the Valentine’s Day event partnering Bob Hope Village with Longwood Elementary for Valentines for Veterans, an annual event first enacted in 1996 by Gen. Ron Fogleman, Air Force Chief of Staff, and was intended to support the Department of Veteran Affairs weeklong National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans.

NWFMOA consists of 230 members and has been making a difference in the lives of veterans in Okaloosa and Walton counties for sixty years. According to Brig. Gen. Fran Hendricks, USAF, Ret., and president of NWFMOA, the organization is made up of all military branches that never stop serving. “We assist all ranks of those who have served and are currently serving, and we hold a soft spot for surviving spouses,” Hendricks said.

Valentine’s Day love was felt everywhere in the Bob Hope Village ballroom thanks to NWFMOA and Longwood Elementary. All residents could talk about were the hugs and cards they received from the students.

“We can’t thank MOA enough for choosing us to be part of Valentines for Veterans,” said Bobbi Jo Dominguez, Director of Bob Hope Village. “Love is in the air today thanks to MOA and thanks to the Longwood Elementary second graders. We have big love for our friends.


 H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


February 13, 2023

President's Pen from the March 2023 Defender

As I pen this first address as President, I feel its only appropriate that I use this space to honor one of our recently fallen members, Colonel Doug Hardin (pictured below). I first met Colonel Hardin and his wife Carol in July 2002 when I took command of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin. Colonel Hardin had the position I was assuming several commanders prior. Colonel Hardin and I became quick friends, and I sought out his counsel from time to time on matters impacting the wing.

When I returned to the area after retiring from the university, Doug was one of the first individuals I contacted. I was looking to get involved in various organizations, and he was key to paving the way for me. All told, we served together on NWFMOA, Air Force Association Education Foundation, and the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council. To say he was a fireball would be an understatement. Everything he was involved with, he was all in. His infectious personality and superb leadership skills quickly inspired all around him to want to do more.

When Col Hardin commanded the Air Base Wing at Eglin, it had a 4-digit designation. Then Air Force Chief of Staff, Merrill McPeak, put out an edit that all wings had to have a numerical designation of historical relevance to the Army Air Corps or Air Force. He even provided a list of available wing designations. On that list was the 96th. Colonel Hardin, as a lieutenant had served in the 96th, before it had been deactivated. He quickly responded to the Chief’s call and secured the 96th designation for Eglin. The significance of the 96th dates from its inception as a Bomb Group during World War II and its role in the Vietnam War.

The B-52 that resides at the Air Armament Museum, was secured during Colonel Hardin’s time as commander of Eglin. He also served as crew member on that bird during Vietnam.

As we perform community outreach with the First Sergeants in 96th Test Wing or when we drive pass the Air Armament Museum, let’s give a tip of the cap to one of our very own, Col Doug Hardin and his enduring legacy. For additional pictures of Col Hardin, click this link:

http://nwfmoa.org/files/hardin/album/

H2S (Here to Serve),


Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


February 10, 2023

50th Anniversary Salute to Okaloosa County Vietnam POWs Returning Home

On Thursday, March 9th, from 1730 to 1930, our community will gather at the Air Force Armament Museum and honor five Vietnam POWs who call Okaloosa County home on the 50th Anniversary of their release from captivity. I respectfully request our Chapter come out and partake in the celebration. One of the POWs to be honored, Brig Gen George “Bud” Day, was a NWFMOA Member. At least two of our Chapter Members (then Capt Fred and Jan Westfall) were on the tarmac at Clark Air Base, Philippines in 1973 when the just released POWs made their first stop after departing Hanoi.  This will also be our Officers Call for the quarter so please join us.

H2S

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF (Ret)
President, NWFMOA


January 16, 2023

MOAA Florida Council of Chapters Training Seminar

I recently had the pleasure to attend the MOAA Florida Council of Chapters (FCoC) annual training seminar in Orlando, Florida.  MOAA Chapters from throughout Florida and surrounding states attended the two-day event.  Pat Kluever, President of the FCoC served as Master of Ceremonies for the training seminar. Presentations from MOAA National senior officials included the following topics: MOAA Update; Surviving Spouse; Chapter Affairs; Legislative Affairs; and the MOAA Foundation.  The FCoC Board gave presentations regarding its State-wide Membership Campaign and the 2023 Convention.

This was the first time I attended this annual training seminar and found it to both very informative and engaging. I had numerous conversations with MOAA National staff members, MOAA Board members, FCoC Board members, and Presidents from Florida MOAA chapters. We shared best practices and lessons learned. I even found the opportunity to engage the MOAA Chairman of the Board, Lt Gen Gary North, USAF (Ret).

In addition to telling Gen North a little bit about the NWFMOA Chapter, I planted the seed for him or the MOAA President, Lt Gen Brian Kelly, USAF (Ret), to visit our chapter in 2024 and partake in our 65th Anniversary (60th affiliated with MOAA). I received an early commitment that one of the two will be there.

 On Friday evening, MOAA National hosted Dinner and awarded various chapters their LOE awards. While we didn’t receive a LOE award, I was happy to see our very own Don Panzenhagen be recognized with a FCoC Leadership Award for his work as the Area Vice President for our region. I was equally honored to be called forward and accept a FCoC Leadership Award for Michael Griffith for his work as our Chapter President. We will make the presentation to Mike at the February Chapter luncheon. Also, at our February Chapter luncheon we will be joined by CAPT Frank Michael, USN Retired. CAPT Michael serves as the Program Director, Council and Chapter Affairs at MOAA National and will update us on MOAA’s recent legislative successes and what initiatives MOAA is presently undertaking to further safeguard our benefits. Please plan to attend the February NWFMOA Chapter meeting on February 2 (Ground Hog Day) at 1130, Fort Walton Yacht Club.

 H2S (Here to Serve),

Fran Hendricks, Brig Gen, USAF Retired
President, NWFMOA


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