FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – About 200 retirees took advantage of the vendors and Blanchfield Army Community Hospital health fair June 19 during Retiree Appreciation Day at the Soldier Support Center.
Veterans who attended the event shared how important it is to them because of the kinds of services they can receive on the installation that they may not easily get elsewhere.
Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Janeil Warren, dedicated 34 years of her life to serving the Army. Warren said the services available at the installation were invaluable.
“I liked the fact that they had these openings where people can go take care of their records, or their finances or anything, and even their ID cards,” she said “Because they could be from way far away where they don’t have access to a post where they can get those things made. So, this is a good event to help them out with things like that.”
Her husband, Melvin Warren, veteran, served the Army for 24 years. He said he appreciated what BACH does for veterans and that the health fair was a wonderful service.
“BACH is always taking care of us.” Warren said. “Our care is always outstanding.”
Retired Army Col. Beverly Smith-Tillery, who served for 23 years, said this event is important for retirees because it can provide services that others might not traditionally think of.
When Smith-Tillery retired she didn’t receive her retirement flag. Four years later, at a retiree appreciation event at Fort Knox, Kentucky, she told a staff member there that she still hadn’t received it.
“Two weeks later I had my flag. I’d been trying to get it for four years,” she said.
Without the help she received at the retiree appreciation event years ago, she doesn’t know how she would have received the flag she earned.
Some vendors and providers also were retired veterans. Tipnie Mack, director of Veteran Upward Bound at Austin Peay State University, attended to answer any questions retirees might have about pursuing higher education.
“For me, when I retired and wanted to go back to school it was tough,” she said “It was hard because it had been over five years since I had done any education, so it was tough for me trying to figure out how to actually enroll in school.”
Mack said her personal struggle with going back to school made her want to help others overcome the challenges of pursuing higher education after retiring.
“I wanted to do it because I’m a veteran. I’m very passionate about veterans and I wanted to ensure that when leaving the military they have the same opportunity as anyone else as far as education,” she said.
Veteran Upward Bound assists veterans with navigating the admissions process as well as financial aid and education benefits.
Smith-Tillery said that there are small but significant ways that the community can continue to support retired Soldiers.
“I think a veteran always appreciates a thank you,” she said “And you can listen to them. Sometimes just giving a veteran an opportunity to talk about their service makes them feel like it was real to them, and now I’ve given some realness to you.”
For Mack, this was her first time attending the event, and while she thought it was a wonderful way to extend services to veterans, she said she hopes there will be more of them throughout the year in the future.
“I didn’t realize there would be this many people here. I think it’s an amazing event,” Mack said “I think that there should be more events like this throughout the year, not just once a year.”