FORT KNOX, Ky. — More than 200 retirees and their dependents from surrounding communities came to Sadowski Center and other locations Oct. 15 to participate in the 2021 edition of Retiree Appreciation Day.
Last year’s RAD was cancelled to protect the health of retirees, some of whom fit within the age range hardest hit by COVID-19. The installation operated within Health Protection Condition level Charlie at the time, which restricted many of the activities that would’ve normally occurred.
This year’s event was spread across multiple locations as an added measure of protection as well as conducting health screenings of those entering Sadowski and mandatory mask wear. Fort Knox Garrison Commander Col. Lance O’Bryan said the turnout was very good, even despite rainy weather.
“We owe it to our retirees to make sure we take care of them,” said O’Bryan. “We would love to do this more than once a year, but being able to pull all this together once a year, and offering them some of the services that they may not be getting on the outside, is something we need to do to ensure that we are thanking them for their service.”
While much of the initial activity took place at Sadowski with over 30 vendors providing information and advice. Retirees also took advantage of COVID and flu vaccinations at the Fort Knox vaccination site and drinks at the Exchange and cake at the commissary. Still others went to White Hall to update ID cards.
In the past, all of those activities and more would have been housed at the Saber & Quill.
Robert Bousum retired from armor here several years ago and after spending some time in Florida, he returned to the area in 2003. He said he has come to count on the several retiree appreciation events he has participated in over the years.
“It means somebody cares,” said Bousum.
Bousum said he was glad to see that the event returned this year. He especially enjoyed the question and answer period usually at the start of the day because he gets to make a difference in the questions he asks and the suggestions he offers to installation leaders.
As commander of Disabled Army Veterans Auxiliary Elizabethtown Unit 003, Jane Casher said the number of veterans participating in this year’s appreciation event is down from previous years.
“A lot of them are homebound, and they are frightened to get out,” said Casher. “They’re elderly, and they don’t want to get COVID.”
Casher stood at the DAV station in Sadowski and talked with several retirees who had attended. Her unit has a program that actively seeks out homebound veterans to offer them assistance.
“We’re here to help them,” said Casher, who partners with other organizations to take care of retirees and their families. “Whatever we have available in our community we get out to our members. This is the type of appreciation you can’t find anywhere else.”
Leaders said that kind of real assistance and information is what Retiree Appreciation Day is all about.
“We appreciate them, and we’re honored to be able to do this for them,” said O’Bryan. “Last year, the impact of COVID just threw a wrench in plans, but we’re glad to be able to do this and look forward to doing it again next year.”