Sunday, December 06, 2020
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This isn't just another organization. It is the most inclusive, independent organization ever formed to serve federally-employed optometrists.

The National Association of Veterans Affairs Optometrists (NAVAO) is clearly comprised of optometrists, residents, and consulting providers who work in the VA health system. There are some rogue Indian Health Service optometrists who are NAVAO members who aren't directly affiliated with the VA, and there are other non-VA optometrists on the NAVAO membership rolls, but for the most part, this is a VA-centric nonprofit organization.

The Armed Forces Optometric Society (AFOS) is another organization made up of federal service optometrists. AFOS membership has two primary prerequisites: First, members must work in one of the uniformed services, or in federal civil service. Second - and this is a critical distinction - members must maintain current membership in the American Optometric Association (AOA). AFOS began in early 1970 in a meeting in the AOA's Washington, D.C. headquarters. AFOS quickly charted a course leading to an uncomfortably close relationship through the late 1970s. In 1981, AFOS became subordinate to the AOA when it changed to affiliate status, and in July 2005, membership in the AOA, optometry's largest political lobbying organization, became a mandatory requirement for AFOS membership. AFOS members who were not AOA members were grandfathered into AFOS...sort of. Regardless of the initial intent of AFOS founders, the organization changed over time, and now places the national organization's interests above those of its membership. At the annual AFOS meeting in Boston, MA in October 2011, the interim AFOS Executive Director announced the grandfather policy would come to an end, affecting nearly 120 members. No hard date was established for the 'sunset provision' of the grandfather clause (a ridiculous concept that negates the whole purpose of a grandfather clause), but it was clear the end was near for those AFOS members who had no interest in joining the AOA.

That evening the Federal Optometric Society was created. The Articles of Incorporation were written and edited over the next few days and were signed on 14 October 2011 before being sent to its general counsel to be filed in the state of California.

This organization exists solely to serve its member doctors who qualify for membership based on federal optometry service. It is not meant to take anything away from any other group or organization; it is an organization of the members, by the members, and for the members. Period. It is more inclusive than NAVAO and more independent than AFOS. Active participation is expected of the membership in various forms, from creating and presenting COPE-approved lectures to discussion, mentorship, organization and leadership.

FOS leaders are committed to serving the members. We will share member concerns and opinions with national leaders in the healthcare industry, Congress, and other professional associations and we place YOUR interests above all else.

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