FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 11, 2012) -- Fort Rucker invites retirees and their Families from across the Wiregrass to attend the 38th annual Retiree Appreciation Day Oct. 26.

Retirement services organizes the event each year, which includes a Health and Information Fair and a dinner at The Landing to help retirees in two critical areas: physical and mental health, according to Jeffrey Atkins, nurse for heath promotions.

"It is mandated by the Army to have a health fair each year for retirees because many don't live in the local area and may not know what they have access to here or on any military installation. The day is to educate them as much as possible and help them with any medical issues they may need guidance on," he said, adding that free flu shots will be provided to retirees and their Families at the fair.

The event, which will be from 8 a.m. to noon, has grown so much over the years that the health fair has moved to a larger location.

"We are usually at The Landing, but this year we will be at the gym on Andrews Avenue because we have outgrown The Landing. We are excited about the new location because not only can we get more vendors in for retirees to see but we can have a better flow of people to ensure that they can stop at every booth," he said.

Fifty-eight civilian and military vendors will be at the health fair to help guide retirees.

"Institutions such as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Disabled Veterans, Social Security, military recreational vehicle parks and local hospitals will be there, as well as people from specialty clinics," said Atkins.

The event is expected to bring in around 700 retirees.

"I work with a lot of people from around the Wiregrass and many never know what benefits they have. Many forgot because it has been so many years and others just do not know because they do not have daily access to the Internet or a military installation," he said.

Atkins advises retirees to take advantage of the benefits that they earned by living a healthier life, starting with knowing what their benefits are and how to properly use them.

"Military retirees are our heritage, so if you know a veteran tell him or her about the event because it can be difficult for them to get the information. Without them we would not be here. They are the trail blazers--they got us to where we are now. They are heroes and mentors, so we need to make sure we take care of them. We need to honor their contributions," said Atkins.

The Health and Information Fair is only a portion of Retiree Appreciation Day, though it covers most if not all areas of support that impact retirees, according to Chris Moore, retirement services officer.

"We will have a quarterly retirement ceremony, and cake and punch will be provided at the main exchange at 3 p.m. for people who want to do a little shopping and want take a break and recognize retirees. Retirees can pick up a $5 coupon at the fair and use it that day as a token of appreciation. We will also have a social hour at The Landing from 4-5 p.m. for people to socialize and mingle," he said.

The dinner, which will follow the social hour, is expected to host 100 to 125 retirees and their Families, but those interested must register by filling out and returning the invitation in the Fort Rucker retirement services newsletter or by stopping by retirement services in Bldg. 5700.

"The cost is $15 per person and the dinner will be a traditional German schnitzel dinner. Afterwords, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Shane Ostrom, deputy director of Benefits Information and Financial Education Department of Military Officers Association of America, will speak about what near-term changes retirees can expect out of Washington.

Moore, who has seen 18-year-old Soldiers retire out of the military medically, said the hardest part about organizing the events is making sure what the day provides is relevant to retirees of all ages and conditions.

"I try to refrain from the all sizes fits most. I want to tailor the events to really help those who come out here to participate. I want everyone to feel included," said Moore, whose office is responsible for the state of Mississippi, the panhandle and most of Alabama.

"When I say retiree I mean everyone who retired out medically at a young age all the way up to folks who served in World War II. This is not a veteran appreciation day; it is a retiree appreciation day. All retirees are veterans, but not all veterans are retirees," he said.

The day serves as an opportunity for people to appreciate what retirees have done as well as provide care for retirees.

"Each generation of retirees makes different contributions to America, and we as a community need to recognize that," he said.

Page last updated Mon October 15th, 2012 at 10:56