Sunday, June 20, 2021
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This tabbed information below briefly describes events that prompted creation of the FOS.

On October 1st, 1971, Congress begins a new federal service professional pay entitlement. Optometry is included among the health care specialties, at a rate of $100 per month. More than forty years later, the special pay remains unchanged, with an inflation-adjusted purchasing power of just $17.90 by 2012.

In 2005, federal ODs lose a major scope of practice battle and the AOA begins to require membership in the national association as a prerequisite for membership in an affiliate organization.  Federal ODs who are already members of the Armed Forces Optometric Society are grandfathered and allowed to maintain AFOS-only memberships.

In late 2008, a handful of federal ODs critically discuss the state of optometry, the direction it is heading and what the profession should do about itself.  Over the next 18 months, the AOA pushes through board certification, fracturing the profession in the process; several respected professional organizations suffer collateral damage, which continues to this day.  Federal ODs talk a bit more.

By the fall of 2010, leaders of the AOA's newest creation, the American Board of Optometry mislead ODs and the public with marketing slogans, website announcements and press releases, one of which alters the wording of federal legislation, fundamentally changing its meaning and applicability to the profession of optometry.  WIthin a year, a court order prohibits the ABO from making half a dozen false claims.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2010, issues in the profession drive a small group of federal optometrists to discuss critical failures of the political arm of the profession and the erosion of ethics and character among the profession's leadership.  They question the path these leaders have chosen for optometry, the lack of attention paid to their "constituents" and the seeming outright dismisal of valid, but opposing, views.  Nevertheless, they soldier on and continue to support their profession. They pay their dues, attend their meetings, and earn their continuing education credits the same way they always have. They have faith in their profession, but it is not blind. It's never been blind. It never will be blind. Not for federal ODs, anyway.

Their steadfast support does not prevent them from exercising critical analysis skills, however, and over time they begin to question the utility of doing things the same way.  Some of them carry on lengthy, productive and in-depth "what-if" discussions, but they don't act; these discussions are mere academic exercises, or so they thought at the time. 

On 11 October 2011, the Armed Forces Optometric Society announces membership policy changes during its annual meeting in Boston.  These policy changes effectively end the grandfather clause for more than 100 members.  A lively discussion ensues, and by the end of this discussion, it appears AFOS leadership has lost contact with its members. The policy changes suggest AFOS now places the interests of its parent organization above those of its member doctors.

Several side-bar conversations form among the AFOS members after the meeting, but one federal OD disappears, having heard enough to firmly convince him it is time to act.  Throughout the night of 11 October 2011 and into the early morning hours of 12 October 2011, Dr. James Auvil develops the Articles of Incorporation for a new organization, free of political agenda and focused solely on serving its member doctors.  Over the course of the next 36 hours, he reviews and perfects the Articles, and on 14 October 2011, Dr. Auvil signs the documents and sends them to an attorney to be filed in the state of California.  A new organization is born: the Federal Optometric Society.

From mid-October 2011 to February 2012, federal service optometry leaders developed the bylaws of the Federal Optometric Society and designed and published this website to prepare the FOS to receive its first members. 

If you are or were a federal OD, you have a unique opportunity to influence your own satisfaction and growth within the profession by joining, participating in, and building the Federal Optometric Society.  This organization is designed to be shaped by the will of its members.  One OD may have started it, and a handful more may have pitched in to help, but it is up to you and your fellow federal ODs to join and build it.  The FOS will become as good as you make it - this isn't a 'union card' organization - if you choose to join, we expect you to become actively involved, and there's a lot of work to be done.