Fort Rucker gave a little back to those who spent a great part of their lives serving the country when it hosted its 45th annual retiree health fair Oct. 25 in Yano Hall.

The event featured dozens of government agencies and commercial vendors offering a variety of services and information to retired military members and their families -- a true one-stop shop for retirees, according to retired Col. Paul English, co-chair of the Fort Rucker Retiree Council.

"It's good -- everyone's enthusiastic. I see a lot of smiles and people are hitting every table," he said. "As you might expect with this age group, we have a lot of health-related stops and they are keeping very busy."

Lyster Army Health Clinic, one of the main forces behind making the annual event happen, had several tables set up to provide information to veterans, along with offering flu shots to those interested, which included English.

"They weren't certain until a few days ago that they would have them, but they worked hard to get them here," he said. "They have very skilled administrators over there -- I didn't feel a thing."

The Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation also turned out in force with information booths, food and beverages, a cornhole setup and door prizes.

"This really is a total team effort -- it has to be to make it work," English said, adding that Lyster, the garrison and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence all combine their efforts to put on a first-class event that is greatly appreciated by retirees in the area.

One of those retirees who appreciates the annual event is Larry Banks, a retired Soldier who made a five-hour drive from Pinola, Mississippi, to attend the event.

"This is a great event," Banks said. "My wife and I try to come every year because we get a lot of good information that really helps us, and we enjoy meeting other veterans from around the world. I encourage all retired military people to come out every year -- it will help you have a better life."

Banks said he really appreciated organizers including so much information on health-related topics, but also found the veterans organizations booths, financial advising companies on hand and Veterans Affairs benefits advisers valuable, as well.

"It's great to get the updates each year and find out the latest on what's being done to help veterans, and also what we can do to help," he added. "We have so many veterans, and many of them don't have the information they need -- this is a place they can get so much of that."

The retiree health council also hosted a luncheon at The Landing, as it does every year, and brought in the chief of Army retirement services to talk about the latest news and updates of interest to retirees, English said.

After the luncheon, retirees on hand were invited to attend the post's quarterly retirement ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

"I enjoy being a part of this," English added. "It's unusual, being in the Army, but I'm starting to be somewhere long enough to be able to recognize people. After doing this about four or five years, I'm starting to recognize a lot of people and they're recognizing me. It's kind of fun -- like a hometown atmosphere."

Along with that fun, the annual retiree health fair provides an invaluable service to the nation's retired warriors, Banks said.

"The Army gave me a great life. Sure, there were times when I was in conflict and I was scared, but the Army is a great way of life. You can't do anything greater than serving your country and ensuring that we have a country to serve," he said. "The Army should really keep doing these types of event to help veterans know what their benefits are and help them to have a better life."

For more information on retiree services at Fort Rucker, call 255-9124.