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A Lasting Legacy on Military Housing

By Del Eulberg, Major General (Ret.), USAF

I have shared my thoughts on a wide range of topics with you over the past seven years as the national president of PHMA, but this is one of the toughest columns I have ever had to write. As I have stated in previous columns, the last five years have been difficult and a real challenge for our association. Department of Defense budget constraints, sequestration, and restrictions on conferences all have had an impact on PHMA and our members.

Given the importance of these challenges and their associated impact, I would like to expand
on the challenges at hand. We all have seen training budget impacts over the years, and that is not new. However, we also have seen new (and necessary) policies and procedures from the Services and Office of the Secretary of Defense on the approval of conference attendance (or training seminars), which have greatly reduced training opportunities, such as our annual Professional Development Seminars (PDS). In addition, each Service continues to reduce headquarters personnel within the Pentagon, and has taken further personnel reductions at the intermediate headquarters (HQ) or Field Operating Agencies (HQ Navy Installation Command; Army Installation Management Command; and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, or AFCEC). For example, the Air Force (AF) has reduced and consolidated the majority of headquarter support functions from the Major Commands to an AF Installation & Mission Support Command. In addition, housing functions traditionally accomplished at Air Staff and the Major Commands are being consolidated at AFCEC.

Given the successful privatization by the Services of the majority of family house in the United Sates, housing staffs also are seen as “execution” rather than “policy and resources” (a traditional headquarters function), and present an opportunity for efficiencies by relying more on staffs at the installations. These efficiencies or reductions have hit a number of support functions hard—to include our housing staffs across all the Services. Let me be clear here: I am not suggesting that this transformation is a bad thing. It is a reality we have had to face as an association and as housing professionals. Over the past five years, we have witnessed the historical shift in how the Services manage their support functions (including housing and lodging portfolios). Therefore, budget reductions are a second-order effect of the successful programs.

Having said that, the cancellation of PDS has had the largest impact on PHMA, as it drastically reduced the association’s ability to train and support our membership and chapters and generate operating capital. As you all know, the Board and PHMA leadership pivoted to a new delivery model with online training classes—revalidating class content to ensure Service-specific needs are met; increasing value of belonging to chapters and to PHMA; and emphasizing our outreach to sustaining members. Over the past five years, we also greatly reduced operating costs by reducing headquarters PHMA staff and salaries each year, leveraging our relationship with the MHLI to share staff and drive efficiencies, reducing costs of publishing Defense Communities, and reducing and eventually discontinuing PHMA scholarships. None of these decisions was made or executed lightly. Despite our best efforts, the new delivery model and reductions in operating costs did not fully cover our costs, and, as a result, our reserve account was used to stay operational. Most importantly, we also have seen the inevitable reduction in PHMA membership year after year.

Our Board has met many times over the past couple of years to discuss the best way forward for our association, and I’m proud to say that the Board has always remained focused on our mission of providing essential training to our housing and lodging professionals. In consultation with the MHLI leadership and Board, the PHMA Board drafted a motion to transfer ownership of the headquarters PHMA building in Leesburg, Virginia, to the MHLI. If approved by the membership, this will allow the MHLI to continue to provide training to housing professionals. To that end, the PHMA Board has had to make the tough decision to take the necessary steps towards dissolving the association. Both the transfer of assets to MHLI and dissolution of PHMA must be voted on by the membership. To that end, there will be a membership meeting by phone on Monday, December 5, at 1pm (EST) to vote on the PHMA Board of Director’s motions for dissolution of PHMA and distribution of assets. Visit the PHMA website, www.phma.com, for call-in information.

Everyone who has participated and been involved in PHMA over the years fully understands and appreciates what a positive impact the association has made on our housing and lodging professionals and the military members and families they serve. To celebrate our history and many accomplishments, our next issue of Defense Communities will focus on the history of PHMA and the men and women who made it all happen. God Bless you all for your service.

Del Eulberg is Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. General Eulberg retired from the Air Force in 2009 as The Civil Engineer, HQ USAF, where he was responsible for installation support for 166 installations worldwide.


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National Capitol Region Chapter 5 – Washington, DC

Northwest Cascade Chapter 10

Hawaii – Aloha Chapter 14

Cabrillo Chapter 16

Alamo Rose Chapter 17

Gulf Coast Chapter 18

Crystal Coast Chapter 36

Old Dominion Chapter 37

Tri-State Regional Chapter 65

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