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RFPB Fellows Society 
2017 Annual Meeting Minutes
13 September 2017

The meeting convened at 1145 by Vice-President Bobby Green. (Acting President Richard Wightman was unable to attend due to hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida resulting in cancelled flights).

The minutes of the previous meeting in December, 2016 were adopted.

Old business

Discussion began about AC/RC comparability issues. It then evolved and focused on the potential benefits of a short paper for the RFPB that would discuss issues related to data sharing/data input between DoD and the VA, with specific relevance to the RC. Current processes for receiving, analyzing and sharing the data, especially as they relate to the RC, lack a foundational understanding of unique RC policies and mobilization processes. Julie Small works in this area at the VA and she agreed to take the lead in preparation of the paper. She, in conjunction with the Board, will coordinate closely with the Military Executive (MilExec) of the RFPB regards specifics of the paper to ensure that its timing and content will be of optimal use to the RFPB. 

In July, Acting President Wightman asked Bob Feidler and Mary K. Eder to review the current By-Laws and make a recommendation on how to proceed. The consensus was that the current By-Laws were generally workable but needed modest updating and amendment. They further recommended that a full committee be named to fully review the By-Laws with the idea that a revised version could be presented to the membership by early 2018, commented upon, and formally discussed and adopted at our next annual meeting in September 2018. This approach was agreed upon, subject to the President naming the committee and providing further specific guidance. Bob Feidler agreed to chair a Bylaws Committee and Tom Jones volunteered to serve on the Committee.

At our previous meeting, discussion about an updated awards process relating to the Citizen Patriot Unit and Individual Awards occurred. Part of that discussion was implemented over the past year, in that nominations were limited to coming from the RC Chiefs. This process led to fewer nominations this year, but they were of exceptional quality having first been vetted by the Chiefs. The Awards Committee chaired by Paul Bergson met at the end of August and following review of the nominations, selected the nominee of VADM McCollum, Chief of the Naval Reserve, for this year’s Citizen Patriot Unit Award. The recipient was Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron EIGHT FIVE (HSC -85) the Firehawks. The unit has a long lineage of distinction and most recently has been the Navy’s sole provider of Rotary Wing Special Operations support to U.S. Special Operation Command and Theater Special Operations Forces. No individual award was recommended for this year.

After discussion of the processes relating to this award, it was concurred in that we must make every effort to solicit the nominations from the RC Chiefs with sufficient lead time for them to engage in a process that will permit them to timely submit their nominations. It was suggested that an Awards Committee again be named and, following deliberations about additional details of the process that should be implemented, that the solicitations go out no later than 1 March, 2018 for next year’s awards. All RFPB Fellows should be aware that they are eligible to submit nominees for the Individual award and are encouraged to do so. Julie Small volunteered to lead this committee for next year and John Paul Cook volunteered to serve on the Committee.

Committee/Officer Reports

Throughout the meeting VP Green shared input that Rich Wightman and he had discussed between themselves and other Board members on a variety of topics.

Julie Small, the Treasurer, gave an update on finances and membership (more re membership under New Business). In short, we are nicely solvent for our needs with slightly over $3K in our account and annual expenses/taxes generally not exceeding $600 (not including expenses for educational programs, which are conducted and paid for separately).

Bob Feidler provided updates throughout the meeting and commented that our primary communications would continue to be the weekly updates from the RFPB MilExec together with relevant attachments.  

New Business

Election of new officers was conducted. President Terry O’Connell indicated he would be stepping down but welcomed continued service. A slate consisting of the current Board and officers, with Rich Wightman nominated to serve as President, and Mary K Eder nominated to fill the vacancy on the BOD created by Terry O’Connell’s departure, was then adopted. Julie Small will remain as Treasurer on an interim basis until a new Treasurer is appointed. The current members of the Board and their positions are as follows:

Rich Wightman- President
Bobby Green- Vice President
Bob Feidler- Secretary
Julie Small- Treasurer
Larry Taylor
Gus Hargett
Paul Bergson
Jimmy Stewart
Mari K. Eder

Jimmy Stewart indicated that developments in the intermediate future might cause him to have to leave the Board as he might have an ethics conflict.

Bobby Green reported that it was Rich Wightman’s intent to name the three former Chairs of the RFPB – O’Connell, Zapanta and Greenberg – to the Fellows Board as Ex Officio, non-voting members.  

Extensive discussion was had on the topic of membership, especially as it related to the need for extra effort to be focused on departing RFPB Board and staff members eligible for membership in the Fellows. Rich Wightman has a special interest in this and Bobby Green indicated his willingness to work closely with the MilExec and to lead a membership committee. All agreed that this was our number one priority for the coming year.

A legislative briefing was conducted by Susan Lukas, the legislative director at the Reserve Officers Association. She reviewed the status (chaotic) of the budget process (essentially DoD is operating under a Continuing Resolution until mid-December but will likely have a budget in the vicinity of $590 Billion which reflects a modest increase). BRAC, the process for reducing facilities, is likely to occur given that the Air Force and Army seem to have substantially underutilized assets, and the reduction of which would save substantial money over time. It was noted that the GAO might have a greater role in the BRAC process, which the attendees felt would be a bad idea. It was also noted that special attention needed to be paid to lessons-learned relative to the last BRAC as it related to RC facilities and problems BRAC caused, for no apparent reason, to many units. It was also noted that the relationship between the military and the American public suffered when RC facilities were removed from an area as it is the RC relationship that is sometimes the only visible presence of the military in a community.

As noted above under Old Business, a thorough discussion of the need for By-Laws review was conducted and it is expected that a committee will be named by the President to that effect with the goal that new By-Laws will be considered and adopted at the next annual meeting – 12 SEP 2018.

An education program to be conducted sometime in the next year was discussed. Last year, in March of 2016, a major education program was conducted at the ROA facility focused on the report that had just been issued by the Commission on the Future of the Army and its impact on the Army’s Reserve Components. That program included a number of Commissioners and leaders in the USAR and ARNG participating and was webcast live. The program was enabled through a generous gift from Al Zapanta that totally underwrote the program. The original concept was that the first program would be held at ROA and the second at the NGAUS facility. There was general agreement that an educational program could be beneficial but that it must be closely coordinated with the MilExec to again ensure that the program would address a need of the RFPB and be helpful to them. A possible topic might relate to the paper being prepared on DoD/VA education and improved coordination on RC specific data-sharing. However, topic and timing of the program are to be resolved and the program would not occur until at least March of 2018.

The formal meeting of the RFPB Fellows Society was adjourned at 1315.

Immediately following the adjournment of the RFPB meeting at 1605, the Fellows conducted the Citizen Patriot Unit Award ceremony. Bobby Green opened with brief remarks about the history and importance of the award. He emphasized the high quality of all the nominations received by the Awards Committee and the difficulty posed by selecting a recipient from such distinguished RC nominations.

He then asked former RFPB Chairman Al Zapanta, under whose chairmanship the award was created, to present the award to the HSC-85 and review the exceptional achievements of that unit. Zapanta noted that while he served in Vietnam in 1969, a predecessor unit of the HSC-85, had “bailed our ass out” on several occasions! The Executive Officer of HSC-85 accepted the award on behalf of the unit and made gracious remarks. He was followed by the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Reserve who made remarks on behalf of the Admiral. Former Chief of the Naval Reserve, VADM (Ret) John Cotton also made warm and gracious remarks about the unit and its members. Of note, VADM (Ret) Cotton’s RFPB Board membership term expired at the completion of this year’s RFPB Annual Meeting and promptly joined the RFPB Fellows Society after the Awards ceremony!

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Feidler