If you look up “phoenix” online
or in the dictionary, you’ll read about a mythological
bird that rises from its ashes to live again.
In the second decade of the 21st century, we have to
start thinking about how to keep this process going for
our own version of this phoenix….
We started in
1970 as an “internal” organization, preparing for the
day we retired. We foresaw the desire to continue
socializing with former office-mates with whom we had
shared so many experiences over the years. Many
retired in Maryland and, since active employees could
also be members, we had a large core of local
individuals from which our population base could draw.
This situation was reinforced by the old retirement
system (CSRS), sometimes referred to as “golden
handcuffs,” which discouraged leaving the Agency until
Because we lived very different
lives compared to others who could openly discuss their
“at work” activities in public, we wanted an
organization where we could continue to feel comfortable
interacting with former members of our own community. At
the very least, we wanted a directory of individuals and
their locations in the US.
Today, social media
sites – like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. – can
provide active and timely interaction with our former
coworkers. (But our security “up-bringing” and our
decades-long habit of never discussing our activities
outside the workplace make it very hard for many of us
to embrace social media sites and web blogs.)
And our population base has changed. In the mid-1980s,
the retirement system changed to FERS, allowing
employees in mid-career to come and go to and from
industry or other government jobs. In the early 1990s,
we established operational nodes in Georgia, Texas,
Colorado, and Hawaii, eventually allowing career Agency
civilians to stay at these locations permanently to
provide a continuing knowledge base. And finally,
around 2000, we saw many more contractors at the Agency
fulfilling key work roles.
Thus, our potential
Phoenix Society population has become very diverse –
career civilians, military, contactors, and occasional
high-level employees that stay for a short period of
time – and geographically separated.
changes, how do we keep our Phoenix Society viable?
Of course, we’ve already made some changes.
We’ve made procedural changes so that new Phoenix
Society chapters can be formed in locations other than
Maryland. The first to be formed is the Southwest
Florida chapter – we found that there were common areas
for large numbers of retirees, like Florida, Delaware,
and Texas. Eventually, chapters may form near
operational nodes, i.e., Georgia, Colorado, and Hawaii.
What else needs to be done? How can we be more
active in providing support or in providing ways to
interact together? Are we ready for a Facebook
page, like that of the Cryptologic Museum?
What other specific examples/methods do you
suggest? We would greatly appreciate responses. And as a
last comment; please pay your dues!
“What do I get out of
being a member?”
This is the question we are most frequently asked.
Being a member of the Phoenix Society may not
get you inside the double fences, but it gives you the
unique opportunity to retain or regain contact with
co-workers that have retired and moved to that ideal
retirement area that you always thought about. We
maintain an address directory both alphabetically and by
city. We also maintain a list of email addresses
and a list of Agency people who have passed away.
All of these lists are updated monthly. What
is unique about these lists is that they are the only
lists of personnel who have retired and became members
of the Society. There is no such list for retirees who
choose not to join the Society. You will also receive
the POST CRYPT, our monthly Newsletter, which contains
information on various subjects such as book reviews,
information on travel taken by Society members and
topics of general interest to include investments, heath
and taxes. Members are able to take advantage of the
numerous trips that are sponsored by the Phoenix Society
to historic and scenic locations. Remember, retirees do
not take vacations; they take ‘trips.’ We will be adding
to the web site and emailing you additional
information on employment and volunteer opportunities,
group reunions and we are attempting to make available
articles relating to the agency that are published in
newspapers and magazines. These are just a few of the
advantages available to members of the Phoenix Society.
You will have to join to find out what other advantages
are available. We look forward to receiving your
application as a new member and if you are already a
member, your renewal.
Tony Wheeler - Membership Chairperson for the Phoenix Society