FORT RUCKER, Ala.--They invested many years of their lives to protect America's foreign and doA,A!mestic interests. Fort Rucker personnel in turn invested in hundreds of area military retirees this past weekend to honor their service during Fort Rucker's 34th Annual Retiree Appreciation Days.

Retirees visited with old friends, made new ones, exA,A!amined health issues and received retiree benefit upA,A!dates at the two-day yearly event.

The event kicked off Friday with a six-hour health fair at Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Center conducted by Lyster Army Health Clinic (LAHC).

More than 540 attendees were bused from LAHC to the fair's new venue this year to gather "whole body" health information and eduA,A!cation as well as receive various screenings and flu shots, according to Lyster Army Health Clinic's chief of preventive medicine Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Davis. Out of the more than 540 attendees, 504 received flu vaccinations, 13 received pneumonia vaccines, 262 received blood pressure checks, 93 received vision screenings and 13 received hearing screenings, she said.

"We wanted to provide them all the updated health information on cholesterol and blood sugar as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, general education on nutrition and how to stay healthy," Davis said, noting the majority of participants attend the fair to receive flu shots.

Robert Sledge and his wife, Diane, traveled from Summerdale, Ala., for their first visit to Fort Rucker's Retiree Appreciation Days to receive their flu shots, have their blood pressure checked and learn about health issues and retiree benefits.

"Everybody needs medical information - what's covered and what's not for me and for my Family," said Robert, who served as an Army Reservist cook for 25 years.

Diane said she thought it was really nice of Fort Rucker to conduct Appreciation Days for the retirees.

The couple said the event was worth the drive and they will probably return for future retiree events.

Harold and Ethel Arrington from Midland City have been attending the health fair for the past 15 to 20 years and returned again Friday for flu shots, blood pressure checks and new information.

Harold served in the Army and Air Force Reserves for about 30 years.

"It helps to get a refresher on health issues," he said.

LAHC staff considered the health fair a success even though the bad weather limited the turnout.

"Even though we had bad weather we had a lot of turnout," said LAHC Commander Col. Yolanda Ruiz-Isales. "It's a significant event to reach those who honorably served. Our goal is to stay in contact with them and enable them to make better health choices. We did our retirees a great service today."

Ruiz-Isales added that LAHC now has open enrollment for retirees up to 65 years old on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Following the health fair Friday, retirees and Family members attended a retirement ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum and a dinner at Aviators' Landing.

Retirement Services Officer Chris Moore said 125 attended the dinner and 155 participated in the Retiree Appreciation Days general session Saturday that included a panel of post staff and Veteran's Administration representatives.

"(This is) done to show appreciation for retirees and recognize their contributions and contributions
they can still make (such as sharing) information they take from here (with) their communities," Moore said. "(Retirees) come from as far as from Mississippi."