FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — On Oct. 28, Fort Cavazos hosted many local veterans to thank them for their service during Retiree Appreciation Day here.
The former service members were welcomed into the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center in the morning, where there were pastries and coffee waiting for them before the opening ceremony.
The ceremony began with Col. Lakicia Stokes, U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos commander, welcoming the attendees and acknowledging their contributions to the nation.
“I am deeply honored to stand before you today on behalf of Lieutenant General (Sean) Bernabe, the III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commanding general, to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for your unwavering dedication, sacrifice and service to our nation,” she began. “As we gather here on this special occasion, it is important to reflect on the profound impact that each and every one of you has had on the defense of our nation. You are the embodiment of our military values, the legacy selfless service and the embodiment of duty honor and country. Retirees, you have witnessed firsthand the transformation of our military, the challenges and triumphs of the past to the innovations and advancements of today. You have been part of our nation’s history and your contributions have helped shape the strength and resilience of our military.
“Today, as we take this opportunity to spread gratitude, we also acknowledge the sacrifices that you and your families have made,” Stokes continued. “You endured long deployments, faced uncertainty and supported one another through thick and thin. Your commitment to our nation’s defense is an inspiration to all who wear the uniform. Our annual Retiree Day serves as a small token of our gratitude, but it’s our hope that you feel our greatest appreciation everyday.”
Many of the retirees in attendance were active members of the community, including Killeen Mayor Debbie Nash-King. Stokes acknowledged their continued service.
“We recognize that your service did not end with retirement,” she said. “Many of you continue to give back to our communities, mentor the next generation of leaders and support our Soldiers and their families in various ways. Your continued engagement is a testament to your enduring dedication.”
During the ceremony, a presentation with Soldiers wearing historical and current uniforms showed the long history of the U.S. military. Honorary retiree retired Sgt. Maj. Guadalupe Lopez was also recognized for his years of service in and out of uniform.
Guest speaker Robert Farias, assistant director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, spoke to the retirees on the health care available to them in the area and thanked them for their service.
“Thank you for your service,” he said. “Thank you for your bravery. Thank you to your spouses and family members for supporting you … and most importantly, thank you for all of your great sacrifices to our great country.”
There were many resources available to the retirees at the hospital including the CRDAMC Health Fair, which provided immunizations as well as health screenings. There were resources also available around Fort Cavazos, including legal assistance and ID card services.
Stokes encouraged them to take advantage of the resources available at the facility, connect with other veterans and allow the installation to help them receive the benefits and support that they earned through their service.
“As we look to the future, know that your legacy lives on in the military service members who stand here today and those who will follow in your footsteps,” she said.
“Your wisdom, experiences and leadership continue to guide us as we face the challenges of an ever-changing world,” Stokes added. “The bond that connects us as military service members, past and present, is unbreakable and we stand united in our commitment to defending freedom and protecting our great nation.”