Retired Reserve Col. Henry Oldham, left, and retired Sgt. Maj. Doug Patrick get ready to welcome military retirees to the 39th annual Military Retiree Appreciation Day at Redstone Arsenal. The two-day event, slated Oct. 1-2, will take place at the Officers and Civilians Club and the Sparkman Center.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Health care screenings. Tours of Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation facilities. Tricare information. Presentations on military retiree benefits. Introduction of the Veteran Employment Transition Initiative. A reunion reception. Vendor exhibits. Socials and dining get-togethers. A special message from Redstone Arsenal's new senior commander. Door prizes.

What more could a military retiree want'

Many military retirees - former Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- from throughout north and central Alabama as well as from more distant areas make a pilgrimage to Redstone Arsenal every October to participate in one of the best two-day military retiree appreciation events in the Army. And this year the offerings promise to be even better as Redstone Arsenal reaches out to those who have made sacrifices for their country.

"There is so much going on at our Military Retiree Appreciation Day that you can't get it all in two or three hours. Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal have a reputation of going the second and third miles for the military and for our retirees. And that's what they have done here," said retired Reserve Col. Henry Oldham, co-chair of the Retiree Appreciation Day Committee.

"Every installation garrison in the Army has to have a retiree day by regulation. They are usually for a few hours on a Saturday. But, here, ours is a two-day event and it's the best in the Army. It's amazing the support we get from Redstone Garrison and the community to make this happen."

Oldham and his co-chair, retired Sgt. Maj. Doug Patrick, have met military retirees from all over the region through their association with Military Retiree Appreciation Day.

"We draw retirees from all over the Southeast because we have such a good program," Oldham said.

"As a military retiree, you can go to any Retiree Appreciation Day you want to and join any retiree council. Even though most of our attendees are from north Alabama, we've also had retirees from Kansas City, Mo.; Chattanooga; Louisville, Ky.; Mobile; Fort Rucker; and the Destin, Fla., area. They come here to learn, to find out the latest information from vendors and our speakers."

Although primarily an informational event, Military Retiree Appreciation Day is also a celebration of the military retiree community, and the strong support provided by the local Arsenal and Huntsville communities.

"It's the camaraderie and knowing they are still connected to the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army that makes this event so special to retirees," Patrick said. "All the folks in this community understand the value of the military retirees here."

Arsenal organizers as well recognize the significance of this annual event.

"Everyone on the Arsenal has pulled together to make this happen," Oldham said.
"It's a win-win situation for all of us. There is a strong link between active Army personnel and military retirees, and you can really see it at this event. Even though we have a regulation stating that Redstone's Garrison has to have a military retiree appreciation day, there are a lot of people who come together every year to do what is right, regulation or not."

Because of its strong support and varied agenda, the Arsenal's Military Retiree Appreciation Day was recognized this past year at the Installation Management Command Retirement Service Office Conference. This year's Military Retiree Appreciation Day event is being coordinated under the theme "Retiree and Family Members, Still Proud, Still Serving."

"Our retirees are still very much part of the community. We want to honor their continued service and we want to include their family members in our activities," Oldham said.

In planning the Arsenal's event, Patrick said the Retiree Appreciation Day Committee implements its own ideas based on health and quality of life issues faced by today's military retirees.

"Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal are unique in what they can offer military retirees," Patrick said. "When we plan the program, we ask ourselves: 'What do our military retirees need'' and 'What kind of information will be valuable to them''"

About 2,500 military retirees are expected to attend the event, which begins Oct. 1 with a day focused on military retiree health and fun. The day's activities will take place at the Officers and Civilians Club, and will kick off with a $3 breakfast buffet. Activities at the club will include an information health fair from 7 a.m. to noon hosted by Fox Army Health Center, local hospitals, Tricare and Tricare dental; FMWR tours leaving the club at 9 a.m. and noon; Tricare briefings at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. presentations by retired Sgt. Maj. John Benedict concerning Defense Finance and Accounting Services.

The day will also include a luncheon at the club that will feature pulled pork, catfish, fried chicken and salmon, and two dinner options - prime rib and other entrees at the Monte Sano Dining Room and a German buffet at the Soldatenstube. In addition, all FMWR facilities will be open to retirees.

At 3 p.m. Oct. 1, retirees and their family members are invited to view the casing of the colors ceremony for the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School, which will take place at the Parade Field on Patton Road near Gate 10. The ceremony will include a reunion reception, and will mark the official departure of OMEMS and headquarters 59th Ordnance Brigade to Fort Lee, Va., as directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations.

The second day - Oct. 2 - will include the official ceremonies recognizing the Arsenal's Military Retiree Appreciation Day event. The day will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a free continental breakfast at the Sparkman Cafeteria, courtesy of FMWR, Woody Anderson Ford, Commissary and other vendors. Throughout the day, vendors and exhibitors will be available to military retirees.
"It's like a country fair. There are exhibitors everywhere," Patrick said.

"If you've got a problem with pay, the guy that fixes it is right there with a computer. If you have a health problem, people from Fox are there to answer your questions. It's a one-stop shop for the military retiree. This is our vendors' way of giving back and letting military retirees know their service and sacrifice has not been forgotten."

The event's opening ceremony will be at 8 a.m. in Bob Jones Auditorium and will include a welcoming address from the Arsenal's new senior commander - Maj. Gen. James Rogers of the Aviation and Missile Command. Also during the morning, retired Lt. Gen. Roger Thompson, vice president for meetings and programs for the Association of the U.S. Army, will speak on military retiree benefits, and congressional actions affecting retirees and their families; and retired Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Horne, former director of the Human Resources Policy Directorate for the Deputy Chief of Staff G-1, will speak about the new Veterans Employment Transition Initiative.

Other morning presentations will include information on Arsenal growth and an update on the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations affecting the Arsenal presented by Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli, and presentations on the Arsenal's Legal Assistance Office by Col. Craig Meredith, and on Fox Army Health Center by commander Col. Elizabeth Johnson. Information on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and Tricare will again be made available.

Lunch will be served in the Sparkman Cafeteria. Retirees and their family members must make reservations for the luncheon by Sept. 28, although a limited number of meals will be available for those who don't have a reservation.

In the afternoon of Oct. 2, retirees and family members will be able to ask questions of representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs, who will participate in a question-and-answer panel. They will be able to address questions pertaining to services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office, Alabama National Cemeteries, Veterans Affairs Health Services of Birmingham and Alabama State Department of Veterans Affairs.

At the end of the event, door prizes from Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, FMWR, Commissary, Post Exchange, Walmart and other vendors will be given away to those in attendance. In addition, the PX will offer specials and activities for retirees on Oct. 1-2, including a scavenger hunt at 1 p.m. Oct. 1 and 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2; and free gifts to the first 200 customers Oct. 2. The Commissary will have a military retiree appreciation event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1.

Although Military Retiree Appreciation Day officially concludes at the end of the Oct. 2 activities at the Sparkman Center, the Redstone Sergeants Major Association has invited retirees and family members to their annual Sergeants Major Association Dinner at the Officers and Civilians Club on Oct. 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The dinner speaker is Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger of the Army Materiel Command. For reservations call 876-9685, 876-5086 or 842-3422 or e-mail dietra.floyd@us.army.mil, mike.mcswain@us.army.mil or lewis.c.lockett@us.army.mil.

Retirees should have received a Retiree Bulletin from the Military Retiree Council detailing all the activities surrounding Military Retiree Appreciation Day. About 45,000 bulletins were mailed out to retirees in the north Alabama and central Alabama areas. For more information, contact Cindy Anderson of the Retirement Services Office at 876-2022 or cynthia.anderson1@us.army.mil or Barbara Moudy of the Transition Center at 313-6481 or barbara.moudy@us.army.mil.

Military Retiree Appreciation Day is coordinated by the Retiree Appreciation Day Committee, which is part of the local 70-member Military Retiree Council representing all services and ranks.

"All you have to do is be military retired and show an interest, and you can be on our council," Oldham said. "We are always actively recruiting and bringing people in."

Both Oldham and Patrick have been active with the retiree council and the RAD committee for several years.

"The Army's been good to us. The community's been good to us. And this lets us give back," Oldham said.

The two retirees are ready to put on a two-day event that is the best yet.

"Wear comfortable shoes and casual clothes. Bring your questions. Bring your shopping bags," Patrick said. "But, mostly, get ready to have a good time at our Military Retiree Appreciation Day event."

Page last updated Fri October 14th, 2011 at 10:13