FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 7, 2018) -- The Retirement Services Office at Fort Benning, Georgia, hosted a Retirement Appreciation Day event at the Benning Club Nov. 2.

The event provided hundreds of military retirees and their Family members information on policy changes that affect them and services that are available to them.

Col. Clinton W. Cox, U.S. Army Garrison commander, welcomed the attendees and updated them about the missions ongoing at Fort Benning, including the forthcoming return of the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade from their first deployment, and the establishment of the Military Advisor Training Academy, whose job is to train the newly formed SFABs.

He also invited the retiree community to the Fox NFL Sunday event Nov. 11 at York Field at the Maneuver Center of Excellence headquarter building's York Field. The Fox NFL Sunday crew - Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan - is performing their broadcast, and the event is in close conjunction with Fort Benning's centennial.

"If you're in the area, or you want to travel to join us, on Veterans Day (November 11) on York Field right in front of the headquarters, we will culminate or wrap up our Centennial," said Cox. "We are going to watch some football, we are going to do a massive tailgate in front of York Field in conjunction with our community partners, who are coming in to join us with that.

"So we are putting Columbus and Fort Benning on the national stage to celebrate our 100 years," continued Cox.

Cox iterated the theme that even those Soldiers who have retired remain Soldiers.

"This is all about being a Soldier for life," said Cox.

Maria G. Bentinck, the deputy director of Army Retirement Services at Crystal City, Virginia, served as the main speaker during the event, and provided important information about ways for the attendees to stay apprised of what is going on in the wider military retiree community.

"Retiree Appreciation Day is a great opportunity to thank our men and women and their Family members for their service and their sacrifice and also an opportunity to stay updated on what's going on with the service," she said. "So I encourage everyone to every year attend a Retiree Appreciation Day event. And to encourage our retiree community to stay connected with the military. Stay connected with what's going on and get out and volunteer and help our military service."

Some of the changes Bentinck informed the retirees on included the beginning of TRICARE Select, the increase to TRICARE Pharmacy co-pays, hearing aids being available at cost for both retirees and spouses where available, SBP premiums paid from Combat Related Special Compensations, and more.

Another large change was the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) replacing TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan Jan. 1, 2019. For transition updates, retirees can visit https://tricare.benefeds.com or see the "Related Links" section.

To stay informed of more updates to policies, Bentinck further recommended retirees visit the Army Retirement Services and My Army Benefits websites (see "Related Links" section below) and follow Army Echoes, the Army's official publication for its retired community, which they receive at the email of record on their myPay account. She also informed the crowd of Change of Mission, the Army's official retirement planning publication for Soldiers with 17 or more years of service, which debuted in October and is planned for quarterly release.

Additionally, she encouraged retirees to take on a twofold mission of "hire and inspire."

"'Hire' means that if they have an opportunity to give a job to a veteran, we want them to hire a veteran," said Bentinck. "When they do that, it helps to lower the veteran unemployment rate, so that is an opportunity for them to give back to veterans."

The "inspire" part of that mission means communicating the Army story to those unfamiliar.

"When the retired community tells their story, when they tell the Army story, their experience, their service, when they talk about service to Americans, that is an opportunity for them to 'inspire' Americans to serve or to support our military," she said. "There are fewer than one percent who served our country. We want them to tell their story to the 99 percent, so they can understand what selfless service means and what they did for our country."

Verna D. Clemons, the retirement services officer for the Retirement Services Office at Fort Benning, estimated an additional 100 retirees showed up in addition to the 500 registered. Even so, this only represented a small portion of the military servicemembers who fall under Fort Benning's Retirement Services Office, which covers large portions of Georgia and Alabama and includes 44 thousand retirees.

"We want to make sure that the retirees have not been forgotten," said Clemons. "Although they are not serving on active duty right now, to let them know that you're not forgotten once you're retired."

After the formal luncheon event, the retirees and their Family members moved out of the Benning Club Supper Club to take part in a health and information fair. Different organizations from U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning, Martin Army Community Hospital, and organizations at Fort Benning and surrounding communities provided information and guidance and other services.

Retired E4 Herbert McDuffie, who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) during the Vietnam War, visited the different tables. He said he both enjoys the event and receives important updates.

"You get vital information that you don't know coming through retirement," said McDuffie. "We know that these folks care for retirees because they put something on for them. They're always trying to help any way they can."

For a list of useful links related to military retirement, visit the "Related Links" section on this page.

For photos from this event, visit "PHOTO ALBUM" in the "Related Links" section on this page.