By Pfc. Park Min-jeNovember 22, 2016
"Freedom is not free." It has never been free. The benefits of the freedoms that Americans enjoy should never be taken for granted. U. S. Army Garrison Yongsan gave full regard to veterans in Area II by celebrating Nov. 19, 2016 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Dragon Hill Lodge.
The event kicked off with the presenting of colors from the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) color guards. USAG Yongsan Commander Col. J. Scott Peterson followed with welcoming remarks. The morning mainly consisted of briefings by personnel from various garrison directorates to the retirees on topics ranging from medical care to other entitlements and benefits. The transformation overview delivered by Deputy to the Garrison Commander Tommy R. Mize was particularly detailed, explaining the gradual reduction of the Yongsan footprint and relocation plan to Camp Humphreys over the next few years.
An elaborate buffet-style luncheon was provided to the distinguished veterans. Alongside the luncheon, several vendors and sponsors including the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and TRICARE distributed souvenirs and information to the retirees. There were also raffle prizes given away throughout the day.
Additional briefings followed the luncheon by such organizations as the Association of United States Army (AUSA) and Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA). Peterson introduced the guest speaker, Eighth Army Operations Deputy Commanding General Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Graves to the attendees. He accentuated why it is important to remember and honor retirees. "We deeply appreciate everything you have done for the country, and I personally want to thank you for your service," Graves said.
The day concluded with Peterson and USAG Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph M. James Jr. passing out certificates of appreciation to some of the veterans in a symbol of the garrison's appreciation for their sacrifices. "Retiree Appreciation Day shows a connection between the veterans who have left the Army and the Soldiers who are serving right now," said Chris Beyah, a retired Army sergeant major who worked in Soldier retention. "In particular, we still have World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans. And it's nice to have this camaraderie together."
Retiree Appreciation Day is held every year and is one of the many ways USAG Yongsan ensures veterans are made to feel part of the Army family.