FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- "Thank you."

Those are the two words that Paula Darrow, operations assistant with the post's Directorate of Plans, Training and Mobilization, says she hopes that active duty service members, veterans and retirees will take with them after leaving Fort Jackson next weekend.

The weekend, May 21-22, will mark the first time two of the post's signature events - Retiree Appreciation Days and Armed Forces Day - will be combined.

"By tying (Armed Forces Day) into Retiree Appreciation Days, we are honoring those who have served, those who are serving and those who will serve," Darrow said. "The opening ceremony will honor all of those.

"For our retirees, we want to thank them for having served and that we haven't forgotten them. Our active duty (Soldiers), we want to thank them for keeping us free and protecting this country."

Though the Retiree Appreciation Day events begin Friday with a golf tournament and dinner, one of the large attractions for both events is the Saturday morning ceremony at Hilton Field. This year's joint ceremony will include an oath of enlistment given by Maj. Gen. James Milano, post commander, to about 40 future Soldiers.

After the ceremony, attendees can stay at the field to participate in the various activities or head to the Solomon Center for the annual Health Expo. The Armed Forces Day activities include: a laser "weapons" demonstration; children's rides, games, face painting, crafts; a mini-Basic Combat Training for children and various displays, such as a living history and recruiting displays. Food and beverage vendors will also be on hand.

Al Brackett, who spearheaded the retiree portion of the event, said that combining the two events will lead to an even better time for attendees.

"By combining the two events, we're trying to enhance two events that have been successful," he said. "Armed Forces Day recognizes service members from all branches of service. To combine it with the RAD just enhances the appeal."

The theme for this year's RAD also falls in line with the double event: "Honoring our service members, past, present and future."

The expo, said Darrow, is a valuable resource for local retirees.

"The expo is especially important, because it allows (retirees) to get some medical screenings and (find out) what the current benefits are," she said.

Brackett said the expo puts all of the agencies from which retirees might benefit in one spot to make it a virtual one-stop shop.

But in addition, Brackett said, it offers retirees a chance to reminisce.

"It gives retirees a chance to come out and re-establish old acquaintances," he said. "It's just a well-rounded weekend for the retirees to get out and have a good time. They deserve that, they deserve special treatment."

All in all, Darrow said the plan was to give visitors a taste of what Fort Jackson has to offer and what today's Army is about.

"I just hope everyone comes out and says 'Thank you,' to our retirees and let our (active duty) Soldiers know we appreciate them," she said.

Editor's note: See next week's special section of the Leader for more information about Armed Forces Day/Retiree Appreciation Days events. Visit www.jackson.army.mil for a complete list of events.

Page last updated Wed May 11th, 2011 at 14:59