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What it means to be a club member

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- You may have heard comments like, "Being a club member is a waste of money," or "If I joined the club I would not get my money's worth." However, do you really know what you get out of a club membership? Do you know what happens to your membership contributions?

Club membership has existed since the days of the U.S. Army Air Corps and is a cultural staple of our Air Force. However, starting in the 1980s, when clubs were no longer supportable with taxpayer dollars, membership slowly started to erode. In turn, with less membership and less money provided to bases to pay for clubs, it has become more difficult to offer substantial benefits to members. Moreover, with less perceived benefits, Airmen continue to bail on club membership, creating a vicious cycle that has led to the miniscule membership rates we have today.

What many do not realize, however, is that your membership does not only go to supporting club activities, which include hosting graduation ceremonies, change of commands, promotion ceremonies, etc., but also to other services, such as the child development center, auto hobby shop, outdoor recreation and the library.

All of these services are self-sustaining and operated with non-appropriated funds, such as club membership contributions, are allocated across these service organizations. So not only are you probably using services that are being funded through the club memberships of the Airmen at Dyess, but if you contribute via club membership, you are also helping the services that provide benefits to Dyess Airmen and their families.

We, as Airmen, have the power in our hands to stop the downward cycle of club membership, and stop the closing of service organizations that mean so much to so many Dyess Airmen. In addition, becoming a member gives you a legitimate voice as to how club membership money is allocated.

Even if you do not get exactly what you want out of membership, think of how joining represents the core value of "service before self, "and what you provide to the greater good by becoming a member. You are providing for Team Dyess Airmen and their families, as well as carrying on the traditions and heritage of the United States Air Force. Please join the club and uphold our Air Force culture.