By Staff Sgt. Kelly S Malone (Leonard Wood)September 10, 2015
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Sept. 10, 2015) -- Fort Leonard Wood hosted Kenneth Preston, retired Command Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Saturday, in honor of the 36th annual Retiree Appreciation Days.
Preston spoke to many retirees and their Families about how current Department of Defense changes affect them and specifically broke down how sequestration plays a role in the lives of retirees.
"Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, 50 percent of the cuts now come out of DOD . . . so when you talk to most Americans, they don't see or feel the impact of sequestration like the folks in uniform and for all of us," Preston said. "Some of the things they have been talking about are like changing the commissary benefit and increasing co-pays with Tricare. We see and feel the impacts more so because of that 50 percent."
Following the presentation at Abrams Theater, attendees were invited to Nutter Field House for the Retiree Health and Benefits Fair, but some couples divided and conquered.
Joann and Walter Reese split up between Abrams and Nutter Field House to maximize their time.
"She likes seeing the different displays and things hoping she finds something attractive, while I wanted to hear the detailed information about the benefits," Walter said.
Walter, who retired in 1992 and is a member of the Fort Leonard Wood Retiree Council, shared why he supports the annual appreciation days.
"I want to help retirees. When I came from Vietnam it was one of the lowest points of my life," Walter shared. "I just want to make sure no veteran is left alone and help take care of their Families. I want to make sure people get good healthcare. I just want to work for that cause to make sure it's worthwhile for the veterans, plus I love serving my country."
Another program Preston conveyed to the retirees was the Soldier for Life concept that struck a chord with at least one spouse of a retiree.
"I like it, I enjoy it, and we are here every year," Lolita Ugalde, spouse of retired Army Master Sgt. Jose Ugalde said. "They didn't have that last year, it's nice to hear about that."
Other events included a lunch meal at the Double Dining Facility and the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall.
The weekend also featured Friday events, including bus tours, a golf tournament and a special retiree dinner honoring Shirley Janes, retired Air Force master sergeant, as Fort Leonard Wood Retiree of the Year.