CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Oct. 2, 2019) - Though Camp Zama's Retiree Appreciation Day event included a lively celebration and recreational activities for its community's career service men and women, it began with a respectful tribute.

Steven Niederriter, the deputy to the U.S. Army Garrison Japan commander, opened the annual event by dedicating a moment of silence to all the veterans who died while serving their country.

Retiree Appreciation Day is a day to celebrate the men and women who "provided a great contribution to our nation and paved the way for others to come behind them," Niederriter said during his opening remarks Sept. 27 at the Camp Zama Community Club.

"It's an honor to be here commemorating the lifelong service of our military retirees," said Niederriter. "[They] are a vital part of the military community. Their experiences and expertise are extremely important to our mission today."

William Russell, chief of Camp Zama's Military Personnel Division and the organizer of the event, said its purpose was to bring retirees together to let them know their service is appreciated, and also to let them know what services in the community are available to them.

"We want retirees to know we are here to help them," said Russell.

The event included a briefing on TRICARE services, various veterans' benefits and programs, a community resource fair, and a cake-cutting ceremony. Later in the day, the Camp Zama bowling center and golf courses offered free lessons to the community - veterans and beyond.

Cedric Davis, a retired service member who attended the event, said he got a lot of new information of which he had not been previously aware. Receiving updated information on policy changes and available veterans' resources was "very educational and beneficial," Davis said.

"Events like these help retirees know that they are still part of the community," Davis said.