U.S. Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association

Executive Director Update (Spring 2020)

COVID-19 Pandemic

First of all, do NOT take this situation lightly or think that it will simply pass quickly like the flu season typically does. All indicators are that this is going to take some serious time, so all these folks that are cancelling and postponing for a couple of weeks or even a couple of months are really deluding themselves as to when things might have a chance to return to normal. Most important is that you follow the guidelines for safe hygiene habits and just do the best to avoid obvious situations where you could become compromised with the virus. Please take care of yourselves and your families.

Milwaukee Reunion—2020

As you should have heard by now, the Board of Directors and I, in consultation with our host, Jim Taylor up in Milwaukee, RELUCTANTLY decided to cancel the reunion. We did so because of our concern for the health and well-being of our members who typically come to the reunions – many of whom are elderly AND have other health issues putting them at higher than average risk.

You should also know that the hotel wanted to work with us, but the corporate parent company (IHG) insisted on invoking the cancellation penalty which will amount to something like $57,500. That is why we have funds set aside in the treasury, but if this virus keeps attacking without abatement, we may well have to seriously consider the fate of both the Fort Worth and Charleston reunions as well.

Right now, we are in discussions with Milwaukee about moving them to 2023 in an attempt to save those funds by getting an agreement to escrow them against the 2023 reunion. No guarantees on that score. So, now you know what some of the complications are surrounding holding these reunions.

2020 Scholarship Awards

We will continue to host the scholarship program this year. We realize that many colleges and universities have decided to go to a “distance learning” mode until further notice. But, students still have to get books and still have tuition expenses, so that‘s what these scholarships are for.

If you know of a deserving student, don‘t hesitate to recommend her or him. Remember, applications MUST be sponsored by an NCVA member in good standing – but you don‘t have to be related to the student. And, you as the sponsor are required to write a short letter to the committee explaining why you are sponsoring the student for the program.

We only have three scholarships available and competition is keen. So, be aware that sometimes the “tie-breaker” might well be your sponsor letter OR the statement by the candidate. Teacher or minister letters are accepted, but not required.

Elections

OK, the terms of three of our Board of Directors are expiring:

  • Steve Thickstun
  • Lee Parsons
  • Ken Green

Lee Parsons indicated he would step down if we were able to find a candidate for his slot, having served a number of years on the board. So, no one stepped up until I asked Jim Taylor, the host up in Milwaukee, if he would consider serving on the Board and he agreed. Thus, with no other candidates, there is no need to vote for a new member of the Board.

Likewise, our Treasurer, Jim Green, indicated he would be willing to serve ONE MORE term if no one stepped up…and no one did. So, there is no need for an election for the Treasurer‘s spot.

Typically, we also vote on the next reunion location (in this case it would be 2023). But, as I mentioned above, we are offering 2023 as a potential way to recoup at least the money we have to pay for cancelling the 2020 Milwaukee reunion. Again, there is no need for an election this year.

Future Reunions

After much discussion and debate on the Board, and considering the difficulty we have seen in recent years getting a host and location selected (usually with no competition), we decided to give Military Reunion Planners an opportunity to come up with some proposals for a future reunion instead of trying to do everything “in house.” We had PLANNED to have them propose 2023, but now that is OBE, so we will talk with them about 2024.

Right now, the candidate locations will be:

  • San Diego
  • San Antonio
  • Annapolis

When we get the basic information back on these locations, we will publish in the CRYPTOLOG and at some point will hold a VIRTUAL selection by the membership at large.

If we are able to conduct Fort Worth as scheduled, there will be an opportunity to vote in person at that reunion. If the reunion has to be cancelled, then the selection will be mail-in and email balloting only and will be the site with the most votes.

Your Elected Officers

This is important—and while I know most people don‘t read my column in the CRYPTOLOG—members really should if they are concerned about the future of NCVA. Each year we have an opportunity to elect THREE members of the Board of Directors. In theory, that means we could have a complete change of the Board every three years. But, as we have seen, often we don‘t get anyone willing to step up and serve a term on the Board. So, the currently–serving members are pressed into a second, third, or even fourth term. That‘s not really fair to the Board members. It‘s not fair to the membership at large, either.

We do EVERYTHING virtually now, so there is no requirement for anyone to physically BE at a reunion or a meeting of the Board. But, you do have to be available by phone or preferably via the internet in order to serve. Likewise, there are three other officers that are elected by you on a three–year cycle:

  • Executive Director
  • Membership Secretary
  • Treasurer

What we do not want to do is have two or three of those key officers rotate out at the same time. I can tell you that all three of us currently serving in those jobs are no spring chickens and chances are it‘s time for someone a bit younger to step up and take over the helm and chart the course of NCVA into the future.

This is advance notice that you need to seriously consider stepping up for one of those jobs over the next three years.

PLEASE seriously consider serving in some capacity for this association – after all, it‘s YOUR NCVA.

Ask any current or past Board member what you can expect on the board – I think you‘ll find it’s a lot less onerous than you think it is.

Membership Eligibility

There seems to be a bit of confusion about who is and who isn’t eligible for “regular” membership in NCVA.

Basically, the original criteria was stipulated to be having served as a CT or Cryptologic officer or in a support role at one of our field stations. We also made the caveat that those serving at “predecessor and successor” commands would be eligible to join as well. Given the merging of a number of “special duty” communities into the Information Warfare Community (IWC) a few years ago, we are now able to accept any member of the IWC regardless of their designator or predecessor command service. What does that mean?

Well, for example, the Navy Intelligence Community (the old 163x officers) are now part of the IWC. Likewise, the new Cyber Community is in the IWC. So, the rule of thumb is, if they are in the IWC or one of the predecessor commands that make up the IWC today, they can join as a REGULAR member.

It turns out that our peers in AFSS have their own organization much like NCVA—Freedom Through Vigilance (their old motto)—is headquartered out of San Antonio and they do an annual reunion in September/October there — with a great deal of similarity to our reunions. But they have some pretty significant support by the Joint Base personnel down there. If you served at any of the USAF sites where we were a tenant, you will probably know more than a handful of their members as well.

Closing Remarks

So, as we go forward with this new “reality,” NONE OF US knows for sure what this will mean in the long term or how long we‘ll be in “crisis mode.” We all served and we all know that sometimes these things are out of our hands. But, in the end, if we stay together, it will work out.

STAY SAFE.

Bill Hickey