By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneOctober 16, 2009
Besides information on health, benefits and local volunteer services, attendees of the two-day Military Retiree Appreciation Day at Redstone Arsenal also received an up-close look at the Arsenal and all it has to offer its Soldiers, civilian work force, retirees and their families.
And much of that up-close look was provided by Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli during an Oct. 3 presentation in Bob Jones Auditorium.
"You are a part of our family," Pastorelli told the retirees. "This is an important event for us. I've been in the Army for 24 years, and as long as I've been in the service, no one does it better than Redstone Arsenal.
"We're here to support you and we're going to do our best each and every time. We never forget about you even when you do retire. Our commitment is to provide you with whatever services we are capable of providing."
Pastorelli thanked the event's coordinators - the Retiree Council of Redstone Arsenal - and all the organizations, including the Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, Officers and Civilians Club, and Fox Army Health Center, that made the event possible.
"Nothing gets done unless people lean forward, volunteer and make it so," he said. "(Co-chairmen) Henry Oldham and Doug Patrick and all their volunteers do phenomenal work every time."
The colonel reviewed with retirees the size and economic impact of Redstone Arsenal - 38,125 acres; 12 million square feet of building space; $2.7 billion annual economic impact from salaries; 33,000-plus employees on Redstone Arsenal; 78,843 military retirees in the immediate area; 118,265 family members; and 55,303 civilian retirees.
In reviewing changes that will be coming to Redstone Arsenal as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, Pastorelli mentioned the bad news first - the Arsenal will lose about 1,000 Soldiers when the 59th Ordnance Brigade/Ordnance and Munitions Electronic Maintenance School moves to Fort Lee, Va.
But then came the good news. Jobs coming to Redstone in the move of Army organizations include: 1,354 with the Army Materiel Command, 180 with the Space and Missile Defense Command, 2,248 with the Missile Defense Agency, 340 with the Security Assistance Command, 323 with the merger of the Aviation Technical Test Center and the Redstone Technical Test Center into the Redstone Test Center, 75 with the 2nd Recruiting Brigade, 14 with the 2nd Medical Recruiting Brigade and 50 with the Rotary Wing Center.
The total economic impact of BRAC is more than 19,500 new jobs, with 4,651 being direct jobs, 5,500 being indirect jobs and 9,500 being induced jobs in the forms of new community service, such as doctors, fire and police officers, teachers and small businesses.
Of the 4,651 direct jobs, 1,874 have been currently filled. It is estimated that 56 percent of the total jobs will be filled by transfers from other locations while 44 percent will be local hires.
Pastorelli also mentioned the new FBI/ATF facility being built on Patton Road and the growth of other local industry.
"We're not the only thing in town. There are a lot of other industries coming here. Things are going to get better," he said.
He also reviewed construction plans, mentioning that Von Braun 3, which at 840,000 square feet will be the largest office building in North Alabama, will be completed by fall 2010.
Other new facilities either under construction or in the planning stages include the Garrison Support Services facility on Vincent Road, ATF National Center for Explosives Training and Research on Patton Road, Child Development Center on Mills Road, MSIC Explosive Ordnance Exploitation Facility, AMRDEC Software Engineering Directorate facility and the FBI Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center.
He also mentioned plans for the Gate 7/Martin Road expansion, and construction projects involving Burger King, the bowling center expansion, Redstone Activity Field upgrades, Recreation/Community Activity Center renovation, Outdoor Recreation Center expansion, golf course expansion, new Overlook Conference Center and the Enhanced Use Lease project.
Outside the Arsenal gates, command priorities are roads, schools, work force and medical services, Pastorelli said in discussing the Arsenal's relationship with the local community.
He encouraged retirees to take advantage of the services the Arsenal has to offer.
"You all are part of our family," he said. "Our motto is 'Support First ... People Always!' But you are more than a customer. You're part of the family.
"This is your day. We are very thankful you came out. If there is anything we can do for you, we will."
Retired Navy commander Harry Puryear, who traveled from Birmingham for the two-day event, said he appreciated the comments made by Pastorelli and was impressed with all the activities that were planned. During the event, Puryear applied for and received a decal for his car so that he can attend Redstone events more often.
"If I can convince my wife, I would like to move here. There's a lot of stuff going on here. This is a beautiful place," Puryear said. "But the main reason I am interested is because of this base. It is really nice and the people here are really nice. I am really grateful for all this."
While at Redstone, Puryear checked out the Post Exchange and Commissary, and drove around post, even seeing for the first time the old bunkers on the south side of the Arsenal.
"I like being around a military base. I was in the Navy. But I like these Army guys," he said. "I'm impressed with the colonel (Pastorelli). I feel the U.S. is in good hands with men like him in leadership."
Event co-chairman Oldham said the Military Retiree Appreciation Day event is mandated by the Department of Defense to occur annually at Redstone Arsenal and all military installations. But the Arsenal's Retiree Council works hard at making it more than a routine event.
"This is important for our existing retirees because information changes. It is important also because we have a tremendous number of new people entering the retirement system every month," he said. "We work to make this event as attractive and interesting and beneficial as we can for our retirees."
The two-day event, promoted under the theme "Enjoy Your Benefits! You've Earned Them!," included a health and community information fair, presentations and panel discussions on retirement benefits, Arts and Crafts Center demonstrations, bus tours of the Arsenal and social events.
Oldham said the 70-member Retiree Council makes the event bigger and better every year with the help of the Garrison and its directorates, Fox Army Health Center and the local community. Oldham and co-chairman Patrick have especially relied on the help of the Garrison's retirement services officer, Cindy Anderson; as well as Barbara Moody, Ronnie McDaniel, Joe Winston and many other volunteers.
He said Military Retiree Appreciation Day will likely remain a two-day event next year.