Each year, in the grand halls of a convention center in Washington D.C., a non-profit educational organization sets up a three-day forum designed to provide information, discussions, and workshops for those associated with the military community. This organization is the Association of the United States Army, better known as AUSA. The AUSA Meeting brings together those who are actively serving, retired, government employees, or like-minded citizens together for a large scale convention every October. But with over 25,000 attendees it can be a bit overwhelming for a first-timer.
What is AUSA?
AUSA is a professional educational organization that focuses on national security and land power for all areas of the Army including active duty, reserves, retired, and National Guard. Their mission is to provide professional and educational programs, generate support for the Army and their role in national security, and to speak out for the needs of the Army and the soldiers.
AUSA has over 120 local community chapters where volunteers help support soldiers and their families during deployments as well as on the home front. They also provide contributions to scholarships and awards for Army families. The focus on educating the public about the importance of the Army for national security as well as promote being place for professional development for those individuals, organizations, and businesses associated with military support.
Anyone can join AUSA. They welcome Active Duty, retired, Reserve, National Guard, Wounded Warriors, veterans, family members, and any concerned citizen to join their cause. Businesses and defense industry companies are also welcome to join AUSA.
AUSA’s annual meeting brings together members of the community who have a concern or an interest in learning more and promoting the needs of the Army in national defense and security. They have over 25,000 attendees from around the world to include active military, civilians, exhibitors, international participants, Congressional staffers, and Department of Defense representatives. The three day convention offers talks by top-ranking Army officials, exhibits from thousands of businesses, organizations, and individuals, and forums for different subject matters.
AUSA knows the importance of the families standing behind the soldiers, so they offer specific exhibits and forums to support and educate military families on different topics. Their AUSA Family Pavilion will have exhibitors and organizations focused on the military family and their needs. Here are some of the exhibitors you can plan to see while at the 2016 AUSA Meeting in the Family Readiness Pavilion:
- AmeriForce Media, LLC
- Club Beyond/Military Community Youth Ministries
- DoD Spouse Education and Career Opportunities
- Home for our Troops
- Military OneSource
- Military Spouse Advocacy Network
- National Military Family Association
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
- United Through Reading
For a full list of event exhibitors for the 2016 AUSA Meeting click here.
AUSA will also be hosting talks during convention to include topics such as military kids and their needs, and military spouse employment and entrepreneurship. They will also hold a town-hall style forum with senior Army leaders for participants to ask the questions that are important to them. Below are the family forum sessions you can expect to see at the 2016 AUSA Meeting:
- A Status Update on Military Kids- How are They Doing & What do They Need?
- Monday, October 3rd from 2pm to 4pm
- Preparing for a Life In or Outside the Army through Financial Readiness, Military Spouse Employment and Entrepreneurship
- Tuesday, October 4th from 9am to 12pn
- A Town Hall with Senior Army Leaders
- Wednesday, October 5th from 9am to 11am
For more information on the military family events at the 2016 AUSA Meeting click here.
What to Expect
AUSA’s annual meeting can be overwhelming to first time visitors. There are so many different exhibitors, discussions, forums, and organizations that it can be difficult to get a grasp on everything. Below are a few ideas to help you get yourself prepared:
- Stay and Play: With such a large number of attendees, AUSA has blocked hotel rooms in the Washington, DC area for those coming from out of town. Click here to look for a reservation that fits your needs. You can access the Walter E. Washington Convention via Metro, or driving and parking in an available street space. Click here for more information on getting there.
- Taking a Walk: Check out the exhibitor list and see which booths you would like to visit. Then look at the floor plan to create your best route to ensure you get to them all! The AUSA Family Readiness Pavillon is on the second floor plan image in Halls A, B, and C. It is in the middle aisle of the exhibits behind the US Army Exhibit.
- Look and Listen: In addition to the Family Readiness Forums, there are also several different forums, discussions, and talks throughout the three-day convention. Click here to see the full schedule of events.
Tips from the Pros
Even with the best laid plans it’s always nice to have some inside information about what to expect. We heard some great advice in talking with other military spouses like bringing your own business cards (even if you don’t have a business- just with your contact information to network) and a reminder that the convention focuses on the ARMY and not other branches of the military. Here are some other tips from those who have attended previous AUSA Meetings about what to expect and what you can do to make the most of your time.
- Put yourself out there and talk to people. Everyone is there to listen, to connect, to empower. Take that opportunity by both hands and introduce yourself to people you admire.- Kristen S. from If the Saddle Fits
- Make sure to visit all the vendors, and that includes more than just the family ones that might be outside of the Family Forums. Go down and take it all in, see what Veteran and Wounded non-profits are there. Check out all the defense contracting companies downstairs. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn so much more beyond family stuff.- Rheanna from Cammo Style Love
- Make a plan, but be sure to do things you wouldn’t normally be drawn to do. Go to a talk that is out of your element. Visit booths of organizations you’ve never heard of. There is so much to see and learn- Jennifer L.
- Go. If you are a military spouse in the DC area- not just Army spouses- just go. It’s free and you can network with so many military spouse organizations. It’s a great opportunity- Victoria M.
A common misconception about AUSA and their annual Meeting is that it’s for the Army. Period. Anyone, no matter their branch affiliation, can join AUSA. And although the AUSA meeting promotes defense organizations and information session that focus on the Army and their needs, the needs of military families all blend together no matter your branch. We all learn from and network with each other. The AUSA Meeting is a great time to come together just for that.Connect with us on Facebook!