JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The 55th annual Retiree Appreciation Day was held Oct. 11 at Spates Community Club on Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. A wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was included in part of a series of events honoring retirees.

"I want to extend my sincerest thanks to all of you who have demonstrated to be such a valuable part of our military community here on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and the National Capital Region. I've witnessed first-hand your countless contributions, and I greatly appreciate them," said JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter during formal remarks. "I've also witnessed your support of our programs and our facilities, even in these times of austere resources. I've been very impressed with your dedication to improving the quality of life for both our service members and their families. For that, I cannot thank you enough."

Retired Army Col. John W. Radke, Chief of Army Retirement Services, Headquarters, Department of the Army, was the guest speaker.

The focus of Radke's speech, supported by slides, concentrated on the logistics and demographics of retirement services, including benefit changes.

"What you have done for America what you have done for our nation for our Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps is solid and upon your hard work and those who went before you, for the survivors here, for those folks who aren't with you today you are incredibly important. You are the center of influence. You have made a difference and we are proud of you," said Radke.

The appreciation day event included about 25 vendor's information tables.

"We try to target vendors the retirees can benefit from, like health care services and retirement homes. We also have people here from the joint base including the Fitness Center, Commissary, Marine Corps Exchange and Casualty Assistance Center," said Douglas Russell, JBM-HH chief, Military Personnel Division.

Staff members from Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic were on hand to give free flu shots, conduct eye exams and check blood pressure.

"This event helps keep me connected to the community. I pick up things here that I may not be aware of," said retired Army Maj. Michael Burmeister. He said getting his free flu shot was another reason for attending.

"This lets us know what is available to us [retirees]. I came with specific questions about the changes in my dental plan," said Carol Ann Kelly, who served in the Air Force and is the spouse of an Army retiree.