Each year, Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army gather for fellowship and seminars to enhance their knowledge. This year’s CASA National Conference took place at Fort Bragg last week and brought over 80 CASAs to the area.
During their conference, the CASAs met with Fort Bragg leaders and Robert M. Speer, Acting Secretary of the Army; visited the Advanced Airborne School and Special Forces training sites; and participated in several seminars aimed at providing essential information for implementation in their communities.
In the seminar “Telling the Army Story,” Bernie Ingold, deputy chief, Legislative Liaison, and Col. Patrick Seiber, chief, Media Relations Division, discussed the significance of connecting with Congress and the American people. They highlighted the importance of CASAs in sharing Army communications with both groups and acknowledged the challenges of the assignment.
“You don’t have to wear a uniform to serve your country, and you all are the living embodiment of that,” Ingold said.
Ingold stressed the role CASAs have in meeting with their local Congressmen and women, as well as Congressional staffers.
“Our partnership with Congress is extremely effective and where it works best is where we have their trust and confidence,” he said.
Seiber concurred and explained that engagement with Congress and the American public takes effort.
“The strength of the Army is our Soldiers. Our Soldiers come from the people, and unless you go and engage, inform and interact with them, how are you going to get that trust?”
Attendees appreciated the message and said they enjoyed learning different ways to inform the community, especially in communities that do not have a military base.
In his work as a CASA in installation-less Connecticut, Bill Murdy assists veterans with the job hunt and said they are a great resource to the country.
“They’ve actually seen things, done things. They come to work. They know what being part of a team is and getting something done,” he said.
The same could be said of CASAs. Attendees said their experiences from the conference served as a motivator for work in their communities.
“When there’s a need, we are there as resource and we have direct access to the Pentagon and the vast resources of contacts … (we are) making life easier for Army Families,” said Mario Diaz, CASA, Arizona.
CASAs originated after World War I to help the Army select and train its leaders. In 1950, the program reorganized to help spread the Army message to the public.
CASAs are volunteer business and community leaders specially selected by the Secretary of the Army to provide advice and support to Army leadership in their area. They are involved in the community and have an interest in supporting the Army by sharing its message in their area. Each state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories have at least one CASA, with many states having more than one based on Army areas of interest.