FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — More than 250 military retirees and their families joined the Fort Leonard Wood Retirement Services Office for the Retiree Appreciation Days celebration here Friday and Saturday. Due to COVID-19, this year’s event was the first in-person RAD held since 2019, and attendees were given the opportunity to take a bus tour of the installation, eat lunch in an Army dining facility, enjoy a retiree dinner, attend a town hall and more.
“The event was very successful and enjoyed by all in attendance,” said Military Personnel Division Chief Eyonda Williams, who assisted with the event. “Attendees were ecstatic that we were able to resume the in-person event.”
Two attendees this year were Charles Nelson, who retired from the Army after 30 years of service, and his wife, Gertrude. Charles attended Basic Combat Training here in 1957, and the pair makes the 600-mile drive from Jackson, Michigan, each year to attend RAD.
“I purchased my bus tickets right there,” Charles said, pointing to the front entrance of Nutter Field House, where he said a counter used to stand for recruits to purchase their bus tickets home. It’s been almost 65 years since he first stepped foot in the building, but he said this is home for him.
“Most retirees treat their basic training location as their home,” he said.
Friday, he was waiting for a different bus — a tour bus — to pick him and his wife of 61 years up for a trip around the installation. For Gertrude, RAD is a vacation of sorts.
“We like to get out of the house,” she said. “This gives us something to do, and they put on a nice retirement program here.”
Retirement Services Officer Noah Stevens said retirees from all of the military services are welcome to future events — not just Army retirees — and he encouraged more recent retirees to consider participating next year.
“We need more of the people on Fort Leonard Wood — the younger retirees — to attend our event,” he said. “Most people who attend the event have been retired for a while.”
Stevens called RAD an important event on Fort Leonard Wood’s calendar each year.
“I’m glad the Army does it every year to recognize the retired service members,” he said.
For more information about retirement services offered on Fort Leonard Wood, contact the RSO at 573.596.0947.