By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsOctober 29, 2019
Vendors far and wide descended on Fort Knox's Saber & Quill Oct. 25 to offer area retirees everything they may want or need at the 2019 Retiree Appreciation Day.
Retirees responded by showing up in strong numbers to get what they get, which included a ton of information and support. Many retirees also took advantage of the event to reconnect with friends.
Major Gen. John Evans Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, led off the full-day event with an opening speech welcoming all those who participated.
"We've got speakers here to ready to talk to you and inform you, to talk to you about your concerns, and try to get to solving any issues you may have as retirees," said Evans. "We've got people here who are invested in our retiree communities, and we will continue to keep up this legacy."
While many sat in the banquet room, listening to the lineup of speakers who followed Evans, others meandered to each of several tables filled with swag, information and representatives.
One table drew quite a few people in. The Fort Knox Veterinarian Clinic's Pet Safety and First Aid station featured a small kitten, free to hold and pet for a few minutes while Staff Sgt. Vanessa Mitchell talked about services for retirees.
"A lot of the retirees don't realize there is a vet clinic on base, and they don't know that they can get services from us if they live off the installation," said Mitchell. "Some have even thought that the Medical Command was going to stop services to retirees because of all the changes with the hospital, but it doesn't impact our mission.
"We still give retirees services."
The little black kitten, named Binx, leaned quietly into Mitchell's arm as the large crowd of retirees moved around the room. Mitchell said the feline, with the vet clinic for the past couple of weeks, was up for adoption.
"When they come to us, we try to find a home for each and every one of them," said Mitchell.
One popular area missing from this year's event was the medical station that gives free flu shots.
John DeReu, a retired lieutenant colonel and member of the Fort Knox Army Retiree Soldier Council, said the numbers were slightly less than originally expected because of those retirees who normally show only for the immunizations, but that many retirees were still getting involved.
"A lot of people come here for information primarily; learning about what the benefits are, learning about what's available, learning about who they can turn to if they have questions. " said DeReu. "Comradery is a part of it, too."
DeReu smiled as a retiree walked by with three large bags full of information and swag: "That's also part of the draw."
Joe Ryan, a retired master sergeant, spotted a military buddy of his as Ryan wandered around the room full of vendors. Though he has been in the area for a few years, he said this was his first time attending the annual event.
"I came to see what it was about, and I tried to get a flu shot, but they're not having them," said Ryan. "But I'm glad I came. I like being around old military service people."