By Brittany Carlson, Belvoir EagleSeptember 30, 2013
The Fort Belvoir Retirement Services Office and Fort Belvoir Retiree Council hosted the annual Retiree Appreciation Day at Barden Education Center Friday.
Around 200 retired servicemembers and their Families attended the event to catch up on the latest garrison news, hear about changes to their benefits and entitlements, and get flu shots and cholesterol screenings at the Health and Wellness Fair.
Pat Vervena, who retired from the Air Force in 1989, said she comes to Retiree Appreciation Day with her husband primarily for a flu shot, but enjoys getting information and giveaways as well.
"We're always impressed," she said.
Guest speakers from the Retiree Council, Veterans Affairs, Survivor Outreach Services, Social Security Administration and Tricare Express Scripts home delivery spoke to retirees about benefits and programs.
"It's basically to let retirees know that once they retire, we're still here to support them and to help them along the way," said Gwendolyn Lott, Fort Belvoir retirement services officer. "They are a big part of Fort Belvoir. Their participation here at Fort Belvoir is what helps keeps Fort Belvoir running. We're here for them."
Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson helped open the event by thanking the retirees for their service.
"We thank you all for your service to our nation and it's our privilege to continue to serve you here at Fort Belvoir. You have many choices that you can make and you choose to spend your time, your dollars and your services here at Fort Belvoir which is very important to us," he said.
Gadson also provided an update on Fort Belvoir's latest construction projects and opened up the floor for questions.
"I learned quite a bit," said Robert Chappel, who retired from the Army in 1973. "I like to keep up on all the current events. I listened to the colonel speak and I asked a couple questions."
Retiree Appreciation Day is a kind of homecoming for Chappel, who went through Basic Training here in the 1950s before deploying to Korea. He said Fort Belvoir is still taking care of him and his Family, decades after his Army career.
"I'm a Belvoir guy," he said. "My wife and I, we've never been told 'No.' We shop at the commissary and we come here and we pick up medication, and we'll travel (from) three hours away. We love it here."
During the event, retirees also had a chance to visit a variety of information booths
provided by organizations including the Red Cross; Exchange; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; American Military Retiree Association; Veterans of Foreign Wars and the USO.
"It's helpful," said Lewis Rountree, an Army retiree who has attended Fort Belvoir's Retiree Appreciation Day for the past four years. "You get a lot of up-to-date information, and get a chance to clarify some things in case you've got questions, so I keep coming."
Retirees who wanted to update their ID cards could take the free shuttle to the ID card office, where they went to the front of the line.
The Fort Belvoir Dining Facility also provided a special lunch exclusively for retirees and the Exchange hosted an extension event to Retiree Appreciation Day in the afternoon, including a cake-cutting ceremony, raffle and door prizes.
For more information on the Fort Belvoir Retirement Service Office and programs it offers, visit https://www.belvoir.army.mil/dhr/ppb.asp.