WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 4, 2011) -- The Army has scheduled more than 50 Retiree Appreciation Days, or RADs, this year at communities around the world beginning in April and continuing into November.

RADs are one or two-day gatherings, held annually at major installations and other sites, to give retired Soldiers and their families, including survivors, the latest information about the Army and their benefits. Many RADs also include health screenings.

More than a million retired Soldiers, spouses, and survivors of retired Soldiers worldwide are potential customers for RADs, officials said.

At RADs, speakers from installations and Department of the Army report the latest news covering topics such as health care, retired pay, Survivor Benefit Plan law changes, veterans' benefits, social security, military legal aid, and the continuing connection between retired Soldiers and the Army.

Many RADs include health tests such as blood-pressure screening and vision screening, and include representatives from numerous organizations and agencies such as Veterans Affairs. Some feature special events such as a dinner or golf tournament. The installation exchange and commissary often get involved, conducting special sales and other retiree-related events.

RADs are organized by the installation Retirement Service Office, or RSO, often working with the installation retiree council and other retiree and spouse volunteers. Installation retiree councils are groups of military retirees who meet to take on retiree issues, surfacing them to installation leadership and, for service-wide issues, to Army leadership.

"RADs are great events for great people," said John Radke, chief of Army Retirement Services of the Army G-1's Human Resources Policy Directorate. "I've attended RADs worldwide as a guest speaker and found a wealth of information and services at every one. I urge retired Soldiers, spouses, and survivors to make it a priority to attend a RAD."

The first RAD this year is scheduled for Plattsburgh, N.Y., April 23, followed by one at West Point April 30. RADs scheduled for May span the globe from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and include several installations in between, to include one at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 13-14.

RADs in June include one at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, and another at Ord Community Center, Calif. July features one at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa. August heats up with RADs in Orlando, Fla.; Des Moines, Iowa; one in the "twin cities" of Minnesota and another at Camp Ripley, Minn.

September will bring more than a dozen RADs scheduled from Fort McCoy, Wis., to Camp Humphreys, Korea. And October is prime time for RADs with 23 scheduled from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to Fort Polk, La.

The current schedule ends with RADs Nov. 5, in San Antonio and at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. However, Retirement Services officials said that RADs continue to be added throughout the year and if an installation is not listed on the Army Retirement Services homepage, patrons may want to periodically check it at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/rso/rads.asp.