FORT SILL, Okla. (Sept. 28, 2018) -- Over 600 military retirees and spouses attended the 40th Annual Fort Sill Retiree Appreciation Days (RAD) open house Sept. 20, for medical screenings, community resource information, beneficiary updates, and camaraderie. The open house kicked off two days of events for retirees from throughout the region.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Maybelline Sampson retired at Fort Sill in 1996, as a personnel sergeant, and she's been attending RAD here ever since.

"I come every year, there is so much information available, and as I'm getting older I like to take advantage of all the medical things offered," she said. "I looked at the Brookridge Retirement home, and I got on the mailing list for the Center for Creative Living, and received information from the Veterans of Foreign Wars."

Another thing she enjoys about RAD is seeing old friends, she said.

"I ran into about 30 friends here," said Sampson, who lives in Lawton.

RAD is sponsored by the Fort Sill Retirement Services Office (RSO) and the Fort Sill Retiree Council with support from the entire Fires Center of Excellence, and Fort Sill, said Roland Shirley, RSO officer. There were more than 90 vendors at the open house ranging from medical centers to veterans service organizations to educational institutions to Army units. It was also an opportunity for retirees to update their military ID cards, and get legal assistance, too, at the Welcome Center.

One of the highlights of the open house was the door prizes provided by the Retiree Council made possible by its fundraising efforts throughout the year, said Edward Mounts, Retiree Council enlisted co-chairman. The raffle was one of the many activities Retiree Council volunteers helped run during the 5?-hour open house.

"It's really a team effort between us and the RSO, without them we couldn't succeed and vice-versa," Mounts said, of the mutual support provided for the annual RAD.

The following day retirees were invited to the postwide retirement ceremony of Soldiers and DA civilians at Vessey Hall at 8:30 a.m. Every retiring Soldier and civilian received a flag box commemorating their service courtesy of the Retiree Council, Mounts said. That afternoon retirees were welcomed at a luncheon at the Patriot Club.

Fort Sill's two-day RAD is one of the biggest in the Army, Shirley said. And, although Fort Sill's RSO is only responsible for Oklahoma and Arkansas, Shirley said he knew of retirees coming from as far away as Illinois.

Back at the open house, Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC) medics and nurses were prepared to provide 120 flu shots. And, 1st Lt. Rachel Ayala, RAHC chief of Nutrition Care Division, was providing nutrition information to retirees.

"We want them to know that we are available to provide one-on-one counseling, plus classes," Ayala said.

She said she was getting much interest at the open house, fielding questions about fat, sodium, diabetics, serving sizes, and certain diets.

Michelle Massey, Humana Military TRICARE managed care liaison care representative at Fort Sill, helped man a table that provided information about the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program.

"We are letting everybody know that the dental plan is changing and giving them a list of dental plans to choose from," she said. "We are also giving them a list of the vision plans, and these reps are here at the open house."

The Fort Sill Inspector General's office had its Soldiers rotating on two-hours shifts at the IG table. Sgts. 1st Class Antonique Hawkins and David Qutaishat, both assistant inspector generals, said they were at the open house to help retirees with any Army-related issues.

"We've had people come grab pamphlets, cards, and we've let them know that if they need anything to just give us a call," Hawkins said.

The Korean War Veterans Association, Inc., Fort Sill Chapter was one of the many veterans organizations at the open house. It had an information table manned by retired Master Sgt. Ed Mayfield.

"We are looking for anyone who has been stationed in Korea to become a member of the association," said Mayfield. It also accepts associate members, including Gold Star parents and spouses, as well as honorary members. He said KWVA helps support military war widows, and veterans, who need help.

The open house was a day devoted to military retirees, their spouses, widows, and widowers, Shirley said.

"We want them to enjoy themselves because this day is for retirees," he said.