“We consider you Soldiers for life,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Lambert, the Deputy Commanding General – Maneuver for 3rd Infantry Division. “We are grateful for the foundation you laid for us… and our goal is to honor your legacy.”
Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield - Retirement Services Office hosted Retiree Appreciation Day at Club Stewart on Fort Stewart, Georgia, Sept. 16, 2022, to gather and honor retirees of the U.S. military and inform them of various retirement programs that could assist them for the future. The retirement programs include healthcare, finance and veterans groups. RAD gives retirees the opportunity to ask questions about these programs and be guided in the direction that will benefit them.
RAD is also a day to show appreciation to retirees who served in the U.S. military.
“It is the day in which we show appreciation to the men and women who have served and give them updates on their privileges, rights and benefits,” said Anna Taylor, the Chief Retirement Service Officer for Fort Stewart. “We give them the most up-to-date information, foster goodwill, and ensure Soldiers are always available because you want to bring your community alongside the men and women who served.”
The event is held annually but this was the first time since 2020 that RAD was held in person.
“This is the first one that we’re going back to in person,” Taylor Taylor. “There was a need for it because so much time had gone by where we hadn’t provided an appreciation day.”
A small percentage of Americans serve in the military and an even smaller amount serve until retirement, so it’s important for RAD to help retirees feel appreciated and gain helpful knowledge to assist them in their lives.
“We want to have a successful event where our retired Soldiers come out and feel appreciated,” Taylor said. “That they have taken some value from what we’ve put together… and that each person can take something away they didn’t know.”
The Retirement Services Office invited different vendors to provide new knowledge and experiences for retirees.
“Every year we have different presenters come in,” said Julie Lovelady, the Assistant Retirement Service Officer. “We do this every year for them because there’s so many different vendors that we have here… and we try to get somebody different to come talk to the retirees [about] what’s new, what’s happening.”
Not only will vendors assist with informing retirees on what they can provide, but they also lay out the steps and best approaches to take.
“A lot of people wonder, ‘Hey, what happens [now]? What should I do? Who do I call?’ So we’ll have all that information there for them,” Taylor said. “They’ll walk away being more knowledgeable.”
For the RAD, it is a continuous learning experience not only for retirees, but for event planners as well to figure out new ways to help everyone involved.
“After every event, we do an after action review,” Taylor said. “We have comment cards at the event where people can leave their thoughts… and we take all that into consideration on how we can improve. If we need to improve, what would the community like to see differently?”
At the end of the day, the goal for hosting Retiree Appreciation Day is to honor retirees’ legacy of selfless service.
“[The] number one thing is to honor our retirees,” Lovelady said. “That’s what this is about. It’s about them, not about us.”