By Kimberly K. FritzOctober 2, 2010
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 30, 2010) -- More than 300 retired military members and their spouses enjoyed "one-stop shopping" for community services during the annual Retiree Appreciation Day event on Sept. 25 at the Soldier Support Center.
Inside Faughn Hall, retirees were given VIP treatment during the popular gathering that provides streamlined services with little waiting times to America's former war-fighters.
Kenner Army Health Clinic provided seasonal flu vaccines, breast cancer awareness information, and blood pressure, heart and body mass index screenings as well as information about healthy eating and living.
Retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Ronald Miller and his wife, Brenda, received their annual flu shots and marveled at the new facility's convenience.
"It's fantastic to be able to get everything in one day at one location," Miller said. "Last year it was a multi-stop trip to accomplish our tasks."
The Millers retired in 1996 after serving 27 years. The family established roots in Chester and enjoys living close to a military installation.
"I want military members to know that we appreciate their service and sacrifice," Miller said. "It's great being appreciated today, but I want today's generation to know we appreciate them as well."
Inside the large auditorium, retirees heard remarks from Col. Michael G. Morrow, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan J. Hunt III, U.S. Army Quartermaster School regimental command sergeant major.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Leroy A. Bussells, who serves as the assistant director of retiree and veteran's affairs for the Association of the United States Army, provided updates about veteran-sensitive issues on Capitol Hill, including the declining presence of veterans serving in Congress.
Bussells' passionate discussion covered topics relative to retired pay restoration, retiree health care equity and TriCare services.
He encouraged the gathered retirees to check out the AUSA Web site for information about retirement situations and to contact their legislators if they have any concerns.
Col. Vivian Hutson, KAHC commander provided medical updates and spoke about the recent changes and improvements within the clinic.
A video feed of the happenings inside the auditorium kept retired Army Master Sgt. Charles E. Brown and other participants informed as they enjoyed pastry and coffee refreshments.
Brown retired from Fort Lee in 1969 and has continued to serve the Tri-Cities communities. The military and civil service retiree volunteers throughout the community and helps as many people as he can.
"This is America, the greatest country in the world," the naturalized citizen said. "You get out of life what you put in."
As he walked through the halls, the former laundry and dry cleaning specialist said, "It's a great day to be a retiree."
Alexina Bush, Retirement Services chief, said the event was a success.
"The retirees were very receptive and I think they appreciated the presentation satellite. They were able to keep going with the program even if they were getting a flu shot or a cup of coffee," she said. "Now that everything is centrally located, the retirees can talk a walk down the hall to register their vehicles or get their identification cards updated. Last year, they had to drive from the Regimental Club to the Soldier One Stop and other locations."
Bush said she would like to see more of the departments open during future retiree events.
Soldiers from the Army Logistics University, Advanced Leader Course acted as guides and assisted the retirees.
Newly retired Command Sgt. Major Phillip K.Hazzard Sr. and his wife, Linda drove up from Lake Gaston, N.C., to see what services they could look forward to each year. As a military and civilian logistician, Hazzard was a frequent visitor to Fort Lee from Fort Dix, N.J.
"One of our list of things to do today, (besides the services offered at the SSC) is to check out what's here on the installation and what's happening."
Fort Lee is the closest military installation for many of the retirees attending the event. Bush said she had met one retiree who had driven from Ohio to reap the benefits of Retiree Appreciation Day.