Remarks of AAFSW President Mette Beecroft at the December 14th “Century of Women in the Foreign Service” event.
Read the entire text of the speech on this page or click on these links to “jump” to the topics listed:
- Thanks and Acknowledgements
- Life in the Foreign Service 1900-2000
- The Founding of the Global Community Liaison Office
- The Role of the Spouse
- Training for Spouses
- The Founding of the Overseas Briefing Center
- Employment for Spouses
- Female Foreign Service Officers
- Mental Health
- Crisis Assistance
- Our Name Change
As the AAFSW president and on behalf of the Board of AAFSW, it is a great pleasure to greet you all on this festive occasion.
The purpose of our gathering today is to acknowledge the many ways in which Foreign Service life has improved and to honor those who have made it happen during the better part of this century. It has been a century of changes in society, tremendous challenge and commensurate achievement.
We spend a great deal of thought time and effort trying to improve various aspects of what is now referred to as “quality of life” and we acknowledge that there is still much to be done. The recently issued “Report of the Overseas Presence Advisory Panel” tells us that employment for spouses and reducing the negative effects of travel and transportation regulations are two widespread concerns.
However, occasionally, it seems only fair and appropriate to look back and see what actually has been accomplished–how the quality of life has improved.
I will trace some of these accomplishments. Taken as a whole they reveal an extraordinary amount and variety of contributions from a wide spectrum of people including volunteers and Department employees, women and men alike. The AAFSW has been deeply involved in this effort. Part of our success stems from the fact that we are autonomous and thus can work independent of the bureaucracy.
The purpose of this celebration is not to honor individuals so much as to honor what people can accomplish when they work together over an extended period of time.
We, the AAFSW, have a sense of shared involvement with the Foreign Service and a shared pride in it. We are loyal to the Foreign Service as an institution and have always been pleased to make an active contribution to the support of the U.S. mission abroad.
In the final analysis, creating an acceptable “quality of life” overseas is not an end in itself. Rather it is an important aspect of promoting the effective representation of U.S. interests overseas.
I would like to quote from a letter received from Tipper Gore:
“I am pleased to send my personal greetings to everyone as you gather to acknowledge and to celebrate “Foreign Service Women in the 20th Century.” While I regret that I am not able to be with you this morning, I join you in recognizing the outstanding work done to improve life in the Foreign Service.
She goes on to say: “Life abroad can often be extremely challenging…You can be extremely proud of the sacrifices you have made. Please accept my best wishes as you continue to assist Foreign Service families serving throughout the world. Sincerely, Tipper Gore”
Thanks and Acknowledgements:
With us here today are a number of special guests whom I would like to recognize. Some of you have had a long association with Foreign Service:
Virginia Biddle, Elizabeth Campbell, Mrs. Marvin Patterson, Caroline Simmons, Regina Blake, Leila Wilson, Sue Whitman, June Byrne Spencer, founder of the AAFSW, and Ambassador Mary Olmsted.
You are still part of our Foreign Service community and we are happy to welcome you here today. Your accomplishments are not forgotten.
Finally two senior officials from the Department of State have kindly agreed to join us on this occasion. Their respective portfolios all intersect with these quality of life issues which we are highlighting today. They are: Undersecretary of State for Management Bonnie Cohen and Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Patrick Kennedy. The Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Personnel Ambassador “Skip” Gnehm had planned to attend but was unable to do so.
Life in the Foreign Service 1900-2000
In the early part of the century, a number of things took place which provided intimations of things to come, even if change did not really get started until the early 60s.
1924: The Rogers Act merged the Diplomatic Corps and the Consular Corps. In the autumn of 1928, Mrs. Edith Carr started arranging luncheons so that wives from the two formerly separate entities could get together and thus was born first Foreign Service Wives Group. They may have worn hats and gloves to these occasions and discussed the beauty of the parchment and art work of some of the treaties rather than their political content. However, this is the earliest example of the establishment of any sort of esprit de corps among FS families. Also, it constituted the first democratic impulse to lower the implicit social barrier which existed between “diplomatic” and “consular” wives.- This spirit has characterized all the efforts of the AAFSW. A spouse’s rank was not a consideration.
1924: AFSA formed from the Consular Association, originally a professional association. Through the years AFSA has demonstrated an interest in quality of life issues in addition to professional/labor issues. We cooperate with AFSA on a variety of issues.
1948-1949: AWOG- The American Women’s Organization in Greece. This may have been the first wives group organized at a U.S. mission abroad.
In the early 60s, wives started to voice their thoughts about their Foreign Service Life. Eleanor Lee wrote articles in the FS Journal which were critical of FS traditions and of the expectations of the volunteer spouse. She wrote under the pen-name of Mary Stuart–the FS wife who had “lost her head.”
Bea Russell also spoke out when she wrote “Living in State”–her account of life as a FS wife at a time when spouses did not speak out.
1960: Founding of the Association of American Foreign Service Women in response to wives who felt that the needs of wives and families were not adequately explained to important decision makers. June Byrne Spencer suggested an organization , removed from considerations of rank, which would represent families at every level. We were sending more families over seas and it was clear that needed a voice. Today, we do not consider ourselves subversive. However, when June Byrne Spencer first made the suggestion that an organization, with elected officers be formed, she wrote that “jaws dropped, there was silence. It was heretical.”:
1960: Newsletter established. Now called “Global Link” It has been crucial in getting information out to people all over the world–especially when cables were not shown to spouses and there was not FAX or e-mail. The newsletter was often a voice for spouse issues. One article which caught people’s attention was a study which documented the number of volunteer hours senior spouses spent on official duties–a good deal more than 40/week. The GL continues to address spouse issues and by now has moved into the computer age as well.
1960: At same time that FSI almost eliminated wives training, also eliminated the housing information program for which DOS Personnel was responsible. So that it would continue, AAFSW took over this function from a desk in the Foreign Service Lounge. The desk in the Foreign Service Lounge proved so successful that it soon moved next door into a room of its own and became the “Housing Office.” In a way, that desk was a forerunner of the GCLO. The first president of the AAFSW recalled: “We quickly realized that there were needs other than housing and we provided information on schools, jobs for wives, on posts abroad, on local car and furniture rental and other facilities such as medical and recreation.
1961: The first Book Fair took place. Have just had 39th. Important because enabled us to give scholarships to FS youth, donate over a million to local charity illustrating concern for local community as well.
1976: FORUM: the “AAFSW History states” : The most important AAFSW contribution to the FS community may well be the founding of the FORUM, an AAFSW “think tank” which has had an enormous effect on the Foreign Service because of the reports and recommendations they produced and because of the action which these reports and recommendations precipitated: It helped to establish a number of basic tenets:
- Families deserve information.
- Education is of great interest to families.
- Spouses want/need to work.
- The mental health dimension needs more attention.
- Our families need special support in times of political or personal stress. This is not very revolutionary but these ideas needed to be given publicity. In the first year we sent out 4,000 questionnaires asking about people’s concerns.
1977: The AAFSW had regularly engaged in dialogue with the Department on needs of FS families to have better information when they went overseas. The President of the AAFSW was asked to sit on the panel to select the director and to cut the ribbon at the formal opening of the OBC as a training and information facility. This facility has had an enormous impact as well.
Founding of the Global Community Liaison Office:
1977: The year after its establishment, based on results of those 4,000 questionnaires, the FORUM presented its Report on the Concerns of Foreign Service Spouses and Families to then Secretary of State Cyrus Vance The major recommendation of the FORUM report was to establish the GCLO.
The AAFSW played a major role in the establishment of the Global Community Liaison Office. It is also important to note that another indispensable ingredient was the personal, direct, and sustained interest of the Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance. The AAFSW engaged in direct dialogue with the Secretary with the result that the entire consultation and establishment process took less than a year.
In 1978, the FAMILY LIAISON OFFICE was opened with considerable publicity in a big reception in this room attended by the Secretary of State and Mrs. Vance, members of Congress and the press. This is rather a unique story. I know of no other example of a volunteer group–the AAFSW–which managed to change the structure of the bureaucracy and to insert a new function–that of the GCLO. This was a major accomplishment and I think has helped to change the face of the Foreign Service. When the Office was scarcely two years old, the late Ben Read, then Under Sec. For Management wrote, that the GCLO had already become an accepted and essential part of Department operations.
In many ways the AAFSW, the GCLO and the OBC have intertwining histories and interests. We often support each other though we work independently as well.
Many useful products have been created either by one of the organizations alone or through some form of cooperation. AAFSW: “Report on the Concerns of FS Spouses and Families,” FS Families in Situations of International Crisis,” “Legal and Economic Implications of US Foreign Service for Wives-1979” The GCLO and OBC have continued to cooperate in a variety of endeavors–in giving courses; in doing publications such as “What Do I Do Now? A Sourcebook on Regulations;” the “Washington Assignment Notebook;” and the “Overseas Assignment Notebook.” There were even videotapes in which the GCLO and the OBC cooperated to do the Human Side of Crisis Management–a series of 6 videotapes done in 1986 and which now, 13 years later, are being used again as a source of information on security matters.
MAY OF 78- Two months after opening its doors GCLO had to figure out how the new commitment to family members and to the “quality of life” (though not yet called that) was to be manifested. A pilot program was created for at-post GCLOs which then became CLOs. Now there are 158 of them. The CLOs have changed the face of many posts.
DECEMBER 1978: First Community Workshop at OBC–could call it a forerunner of CLO training–how do you operate in a new community and make it your own.
1980: FOREIGN SERVICE ACT: Granted pension rights to the divorced spouses of Foreign Service Officers who had served more than 10 years overseas. AAFSW and the GCLO worked very hard for this–However, in the beginning, it was not retroactive which meant that the divorced women who had fought to get the rights were not themselves covered because they were divorced before the provisions took place. It was another 7 years until the older women were covered.
1981: A former GCLO staff member travels to Moscow from Bonn to spend almost a week meeting with people, describing the GCLO, what a CLO could do and the resources in Washington. First time anyone had gone to a post solely for the purpose of dealing with family member concerns- quality of life concerns.
1982: First time the Department funded a regional CLO conference. Held in Bonn and brought together all the CLOs from the so-called “iron-curtain countries” who functioned with a special amounts of stress in their lives.
1983: Parents go together to form Around the World in a Lifetime (AWAL.) Established by teens and their parents to assist young people with reentry or to prepare them for an assignment overseas. In 1989,AAFSW joined with the GCLO and others to incorporate the Foreign Service Youth Foundation as sponsoring body for AWAL. The Foundation also supports a newly-formed group for younger children.The Foundation just celebrated its 10th anniversary. At the same time the support group for foreign-born spouses was launched. This still functions under the auspices of the AAFSW.
1986: The AAFSW Oral History begins to capture some of the changes which we have seen in this century. It is a remarkable saga starting at a time when it took a month simply to get to many posts We are also cooperating with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) so that our oral history interviews will be distributed electronically world-wide as the Foreign Service Spouse Series of the ADST Oral History Collection.
1998: FORUM makes recommendations for the implementation of an elder care policy in the Department of State. This is a seminal document which led to a thorough policy review which has just been submitted to the Director General.
The Senior Living Foundation, Diplomatic and Consular Officers retired (DACOR) are also involved in providing support for senior and retired members of the FS.
At this point, also need to mention the work of PER/ER as it was their staff member who led the Eldercare policy review. PER/ER gets involved in many other things as well such as the Diplotots Childcare Center or sponsoring noontime seminars of interest to employees. (I would add that child care at FSI is still a big issue.
1998: AAFSW gets it own web site! Technology is transforming the way we all do business: Of particular note is AAFSW’s “Livelines” an email discussion group for people in the Foreign Service or those about to enter. It has proven enormously successful . A large number of issues are discussed–schooling, FLY AMERICA, excess baggage etc. Livelines is emerging as a true forum for mutual assistance. There is always someone out/there who has the information someone else needs.
I would like to go back and trace a few important subjects: the role of the spouse’ (2) training; (3) employment; (4) education; (5) mental health issues, (6) support in times of political or personal crisis.
The Role of the Spouse:
I will start with the role of the spouse in the Foreign Service because this is the background against which much else has happened:
BEFORE THE 1972 DIRECTIVE: “While living overseas, a wife is expected to contribute to the realization of our foreign policy objectives: by creating a home environment which enables her husband to do his work most effectively; by representing the best in America through her home and her children; by fostering a friendly team spirit in the official American community; by cultivating personal contacts in both the local and American community; by participating in community activities; and by assisting in other representational duties.”
IN MARCH 1972: Directive was issued. It recognized that wives of FS employees were not themselves employees and therefore could not be expected to perform free services for the Government.
Though an honest effort to come to grips with some of the sentiments produced by the “two for one” approach, the Directive produced mixed emotions. Younger wives appreciated the “declaration of independence” but older spouses felt that their lifelong service to the US was thus belittled and ignored. In general, it placed senior spouses in a difficult position because the same tasks still needed to be done but there were fewer people to do them.
In the Winter of 83-84, AAFSW FORUM sent out 9,500 questionnaires asking spouses how they saw their role and what they wanted. This report was entitled: The Role of the Foreign Service Spouse. As mentioned above, it recommended more mainstream employment opportunities for FS spouses. However, it sought to come to terms with a number of concerns–that FS spouses felt that their volunteer work was no longer worth anything. It recommended (1) recognition of volunteer work; (3) funding to use spouse skills to address needs both in the mission and host country; (4) full funding of representational activities for all those who choose to undertake them as well as the recognition of the intrinsic representational role of all “senior spouses,” some of whom are recorded as spending more than 40 hours/week. However, the position of the spouse who is not working and who either chooses or is obliged to do representational things is STILL ambivalent.
It is fair to say that defining this role is still a work in progress. Posts need volunteer work to make them function well. CLO can help but cannot do it all.
Training for Spouses:
As early as 1932, one Cornelia Bassel became assistant to the director of the fledgling FSI which had first been created in 1924. As such, she became the unofficial arbiter of what was socially correct for the officers. However, because of her own personality, she also became the mentor for the spouses–even if that was not official.
1949: Early courses and counseling for senior Foreign Service spouses began in 1949 when one Romaine Alling, a FS widow (daughter Anne Long), was hired to provide the training. The training may have been essentially in the social graces BUT it was the first recognition that someone should pay attention to the spouses as well. These courses lasted until 1951 when Romaine Alling remarried and the courses stopped.
1955: Director of the Foreign Service appointed Regina Blake, FS widow also, to totally revamp the courses. However, this program ran into trouble before a House appropriations sub-committee in 1960 because appropriated funds were being used on non-employees–the spouses. The newly founded AAFSW lobbied hard and successfully to make it possible for the training to continue. This was all ahead of the Women’s Moment which didn’t start until 1983.
1962 Mary Vance Trent: She joined State in 1944 and by 1947 became a Foreign Service Officer–one of the first women to do so. Because she was a professional, she was deemed acceptable by CONGRESS to teach a course financed by appropriated funds. Under her, the Wives Course began to evolve. As she commented–and I quote from Jewell Fenzi’s book, “I do approve of a lady’s knowing what fork to use at dinner and whether or not she keeps her gloves on at a reception. …but in one half of the world there are no forks and no-one wears gloves.” In other words, from the beginning, there was a recognition that there was more to life in the FS than etiquette and receptions for the spouses as well.
Thus from early days, the two-weeks course stressed what was going on in American life and fitting into someone else’s community.
By 1965, wives training was well ensconced and continued to become more detailed and comprehensive. There were constant pleas to make it possible for spouses to get language training in a reliable fashion.
Founding of the Overseas Briefing Center:
1977:Above I mentioned the AAFSW participation in the opening of the Overseas Briefing Center (OBC). By now, we all know what a vital function the OBC has in the life of the FS Community. The training is extremely varied and the amount of information–especially about overseas posts–is extremely valuable.
1980- OBC was separated from the School of Area Studies, became independent and reported directly to the Director of FSI. This was very important because meant that OBC was able to participate in policy discussions and provide family member perspectives to FSI. Thus the OBC evolved from teaching only protocol to the wide ranging training and information responsibilities of today.
Today there are many interesting and useful courses at OBC dealing with Foreign Service Life, Going overseas and Re-entry, Foreign Service Families, Employment and Personal and Financial Planning, (Traveling with Pets, The Realities of Foreign Service Life, and Raising Resilient FS Children. However, as the interest in employment becomes ever more intense, so will the call for FSI training in the Consular, GSO and Personnel courses. The availability of substantive training is something to which we’ll have to pay more attention in the near future.
When it comes to finding employment, we stress flexibility and the advantages of having a portable career. Perhaps the first Foreign service spouse to understand that was none other than Julia Child whose postings in Marseilles and Paris (1948-52 and 1952-54) provided the basis for her distinguished culinary career.
1977- before GCLO — a rudimentary skills bank was developed by an AID spouse.
From the moment the GCLO opened in 1978, it was abundantly clear that employment possibilities for spouses was to be a major concern. Today, 20 plus years later, this is still the case. The Report from the Overseas Presence Advisory Panel stresses in four different places how important employment is to spouses at post. So even though we have made enormous strides, we’re not there yet. And we cannot ignore it. In addition the Panel strongly recommends that the department review it’s nepotism regulations which usually make it impossible for senior spouses to work at post and difficult for others. Distance learning and expedited naturalization would help some.
In Oct of 1978, 6 months after opening, GCLO had it’s first Career Counseling Workshop in cooperation with OBC.
Jan, 1979, GCLO: First Employment Program Coordinator
July 1979–AFM/FSN employment program expanded from 15 posts to all
1979- First bi-lateral work agreement–with Canada. Now 73 of them and a number of de facto agreements as well
1982 – First Executive order for non-competitive eligibility–24 months in a PIT position to be eligible for non-competitive status to get a job in the the civil service in the U.S.
1983: FORUM: Role of the Spouse in the Foreign Service–revealed that while 86% of the respondents had worked in the US, only about 50% worked overseas.
1984 AAFSW Working group produced the Foreign Service Associate Proposal which included increased mainstream employment for spouses–but, basically it didn’t work.
1987 -Executive order eligibility made easier–requirements dropped to 12 months.
1991 – AFMA-goal of developing a more formal relationship with Eligible Family Members (EFMs) who wished to have a long-term continuing employment with the USG as they accompanied their spouse. It served its purpose in making record keeping easier and in stressing the fact that spouses could be very serious about their employment even if they did not want to become FSO’s themselves.
GCLO- employment counseling: A world wide Family Member Employment Report which helps people see what jobs are available at post.
Employment Options for FS Families–an excellent reference tool for the spouse seeking employment.
1998 – FMA Appointment. the culmination of almost 20 years of effort (Retirement, health and life insurance benefits for EFMs employed abroad; longer term employment and simplified administration
1999- AAFSW’s Livelines email discussion group established.
Female Foreign Service Officers:
At the same time, there has been much movement on the scene for female employees in the Department:
Attitudes have at least changed: Consider this from a 1966 report: A young officer was given a job of typing 3,000 index cards. Having been just told in junior officer training that initiative and innovative thinking were valued, he reported that he was furious. His comment: Why not use a girl for this?
In 1970, Women’s Action Organization-was founded to increase professional opportunities for women. In 1970, FSOs were not allowed to marry and could not even have dependents abroad. Few women reached supervisory positions let alone the senior ranks of either the Foreign or Civil Service. The WAO–and the long-running class action suit of several of its members–has helped substantially to change these limiting conditions. Ambassador Mary Olmsted, Mary Lee Garrison and Bernice Baer.
As early as 1943, DOS contracted with the American Council on Education to strengthen 18 non-profit American sponsored schools to combat Nazi propaganda in South America. These bi-national school were used as demonstration centers for American Educational methods and practices.
1964: Office of Overseas Schools created. It started by providing assistance to 90 schools in 75 countries. (Now 200 schools in 129 countries.) To this day, this office continues to play an absolutely indispensable role.
1967: Overseas Schools Advisory Council (OSAC) formed. OSAC efforts have generated over $100,000,000 in financial and in-kind aid from US corporations, foundations for these schools. In 1997 and 1998: over $14,000,000 each year.
1973- the AAFSW joined with AFSA to establish the Foreign Service Education and Counseling Center.(FSECC. Provided the right school for children of families returning home, info on testing service and counseled children or families facing re-entry problems or emotional ones. This service continued until it became part of the GCLO in 1979 which seemed like a logical resting place for it.
1979: Education Counselor moved from the FSECC to GCLO- the GCLO now has an enormous amount of information about schools at all levels and related educational matters.
1983: AAFSW Report on Education–22 detailed recommendation based on world wide survey
1986 – First School Summary information goes on microfiche to help people select a post. Much more information available now. We know much more about special education, boarding schools etc.
1996: GCLO publishes “Education Options for FS Family Members.”
Foreign Service families generally believe that giving their children a good education is extremely important. As for children with special needs, we are learning more and more how to meet these needs. While understanding that there are some real advantages to schooling overseas, there is also increasing pressure to provide quality education for all types of children who are overseas. Certainly both Overseas Schools and the Education Officer in the GCLO are deeply involved in these efforts.
AAFSW and AFSA continue to cooperate in giving financial need and merit scholarships on an annual basis.
In the early days some people laughed at you when you said that you wanted to put mental and physical health on the same par. Many were simply too embarrassed to discuss it.
The AAFSW added the position of Mental Health Representative to the Board. That person attended the monthly meeting of the Department’s Mental Health Committee which discussed a wide variety of concerns including the need for improved procedures in situations of terrorism and evacuation, drug abuse and a day care center. The dialogs with the Department on the need for better information resulted in the OBC in 1976 which I have already mentioned. .
There has been a substance abuse facility since the early 1970s.
1981: Employee Consultation Service (ECS) was founded to provide mental health counseling when full psychiatric care is not necessary. It’s use has increased as people understand that confidentiality will be respected.
In the early days neither evacuation nor divorce were common. While the GCLO was still newly established both these types of crises began to occur and the GCLO and AAFSW were faced with responding to the changed situation.
1979: The first big evacuation occurred when about 400 people arrived in the US on Thanksgiving weekend. The GCLO had to start to determine figure out how to handle them. The disconcerting fact is that in an evacuation or terrorist attack, the only constant is that no two are ever the same. The Department was open all week-end to receive people. The new GCLO set up headquarters with a bank of phones so that people could communicate with families and with each other. For the first time, AAFSW volunteers sat on the Operation Center’s Task Force.
For the press, this was a great curiosity which it unfortunately no longer is. But their presence also complicated our lives.
1979: As a result of this evacuation, the AAFSW FORUM prepared a report entitled ” Legal and Economic Implications of US Foreign Service for Wives to encourage spouses to be informed about personal legal and economic matters and to not accept the traditional role of having the husband do it all. In an evacuation, this approach does not work
End of 1979: hostages taken in IRAN and in March of 1980, Penny Laingen gathered the hostages’ spouses together and formed FLAG–the Family Liaison Action Group through which they could give each other mutual support and endeavor to apply group pressure to get the information which they sought from the Department
When the GCLO opened, there was something called the Terrorism Seminar from which family members were excluded. By now, all that has changed, the program is now more positively called Security Overseas Seminar (SOS), family members are included and there is a special session for children.
1980- Evacuation Liaison Officer was officially added to the GCLO staff.
1980- GCLO Produced: “Evacuation Plan–Don’t Leave Home Without It”–one of GCLO’s most reproduced publications
1983: FORUM produced “Families in Situations of International Crisis.” -recommended appropriate training for families on handling a crisis. In spite of its age, this is still relevant
1985-1986: The Human Side of Crisis Management- Series of video tapes: (1)Managing Before, During and After a Crisis; (2) Crisis Work, Crisis Worker and (3) Managing Children During a Crisis.
Briefings for evacuated families–trying to go to-bat for evacuated families caught in difficult situations–GCLO recently managed to get evacuation allowances restructured so that families would not run out of money. There is also the plight of the Belgrade evacuees whose household goods are still caught in Belgrade for lack of political protection to get them out. Families are just about to get a special payment to help them start up new households when all they things they need are stuck in Belgrade.
AAFSW’s Evacuee Support Network which cooperated with the GCLO to assist in going out to airports to meet evacuees– to pay them personal attention- bring American money- maps–names of places to stay
Bombings in Nairobi and Dar have of course been enormously sobering and painful–to put it mildly. Department is now working on setting up a “Casualty Assistance Office” to deal more effectively with situations of mass devastation.
In 1981: Evacuation Liaison Officer became the Support Services Officer as GCLO tried to respond to the mounting number of one of the most complicated of personal crises–divorce.
As the GCLO opened, divorced spouses of FSOs who had been married for 25 and 30 years got absolutely no support- The AAFSW-lobbied long and hard to get this changed so that the FS ACT OF 1980 GRANTED pension and health benefits to the divorced spouses of FS Officers who had served more than 10 years with their former spouse. However, it took another 7 years before the women divorced before the ACT took effect in 1981 were able to claim retroactive benefits.
The importance of “Informational counseling” in these cases–to listen, to indicate sources of information and to help them clarify their own thoughts
Today, as we know, political crises and evacuations are becoming all too common. And the need for support in the event of personal crisis is just as crucial. The GCLO has just recently been able to restore a position which in part provides much needed assistance to the Support Services Officer who handles these crises. The AAFSW stands by with the Evacuation Support Network and on occasion also provides individual support to people who are in the midst of a personal crisis.
Because it is impossible to predict the course a political crisis will follow, it creates much anxiety because of the lack of certainty. However, in the last ten years, we have learned a great deal about how to handle these occasions constructively.
And so, what I have mentioned gives witness to a great deal of change involving the efforts of a great many people. We have accomplished a lot, but there is a lot still to do. We hope that some of you will join us as we address priority issues. As the report of the Advisory Panel recommends, we also hope to see the involvement of the Hill and of the highest levels of the Department.
Two individuals who have witnessed great change in the Foreign Service are the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration and the Director General of the Foreign Service–both of whom have I recognized earlier. They have very kindly agreed to join us today. They both know the FS well and their respective portfolios intersect with some of the concerns mentioned today.
The AAFSW would like to announce a donation of six thousand dollars to the Foreign Service National Emergency Relief Fund. The events of August 98 (Nairobi and Dar es Salaam) depleted the fund and this constitutes our effort to help replenish it.
Finally, for a number of years this association has been concerned about its name. “Foreign Service Women” has steadily become too limited, in part because there are more and more male spouses.
We have been asked again and again “when are you going to change your name?”
People have said: “Change the name and I’ll join.”
After much discussion, we have decided to keep the acronym–AAFSW–but henceforth we will be known as the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide.
The AAFSW Board is delighted that you were able to attend today and we wish you all a lovely holiday season.