CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Military retirees were honored during a Retiree Appreciation Day event Friday morning that was followed by a hiring expo at the Camp Zama Community Club.
The event had about a dozen booths with representatives from on- and off-post organizations seeking new applicants. A guest speaker from the Department of Veterans Affairs also held a virtual question-and-answer session on veteran benefits.
At the start of the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Justin E. Turner, senior enlisted leader of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, voiced his gratitude to the retirees in attendance.
“Regardless of when you served, where you served, or what branch you served in – you have made a difference in the safety and security of our nation,” he said. “And we, as a nation, sincerely appreciate your service and sacrifices.”
Turner added that retirees form a bridge between the civilian and military worlds and asked them to continue to be proud of their service.
He also requested retirees to share their knowledge and experience with service members choosing to leave the military to help them transition smoothly.
“Your experience and guidance can ease the transition that is easy for some, but very difficult for most,” Turner said. “You can help those men and women get their feet underneath them as they move from a life of structure and discipline into a much more dynamic environment.”
Maj. Tom Douglas, who plans to retire in less than two years, attended the event with his wife, Megumi. The couple are currently exploring opportunities as his retirement date approaches.
“We are looking to stay in Japan, but you’ve got to see what options are open here and then what options are open back in the states,” said Douglas, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Japan G-4 office.
Joe Brown, a retired Coast Guardsman, navigated the booths in search of a local-hire position so his two children would be eligible to attend on-post schools.
“It’s very difficult when you’re not an active-duty spouse,” he said, adding that those spouses typically have preference. “I’m pretty far down the list as a veteran.”
Brown then thanked USAG Japan for providing assistance and for organizing the event.
“I thought it was well put together,” he said. “Retirees need a lot of help being hired here overseas.”
Josh Colaco, a former military police officer who now works as a contractor for the Military Personnel Division, also came to get some questions of his answered on local-hire positions.
“I want to stay here in Japan, preferably at Camp Zama, because I like the area, the community and culture,” he said. “I would also like to make a couple more dollars, because I work hard. So, I’m always searching and trying to get to a better … position until I reach that place where I’m comfortable.”
Turner said the garrison’s Retirement Services Office is available to speak with retirees, planned retirees and those just thinking about it.
“If you know someone who is thinking of retirement, but hasn’t engaged with the Retirement Services Office yet, I would ask that you please reach out to them so we can help them,” Turner said.
The RSO can answer questions ranging from VA benefits, preretirement, Survivor Benefit Plan, financial readiness, Concurrent Retirement and Disability Pay, Combat-Related Special Compensation, and more.
Those interested can contact Kai Yuan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (DSN) 315-263-3940 or (COMM) 046-407-3940 to make an appointment or ask a question.