By Skip Vaughn, USAG RedstoneSeptember 29, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Members of the military retiree community are urged to keep informed about their benefits, especially during these times of dwindling resources.
A good way for retired service members and their families to get the latest news from Washington and express their views is through a yearly observance at Redstone.
The 40th annual Retiree Appreciation Day will be held Friday and Saturday. Friday's activities are in the Officers and Civilians Club, and Saturday's events are in the Sparkman Center's Bob Jones Auditorium. This year's theme is "Retiree and Family Member's Guide to the Future."
Past years events have drawn from 1,500 to 3,000 retirees and family members.
"They're going to learn about the benefit changes they're going to have in the future," Barbara Moudy, chief of the Transition Point and a retired Air Force Reserve master sergeant, said. "That's very important they come to this and support this mission -- very much so because it's very important. We as a retiree group have to keep our voice being heard. It's very important we keep our voice. We have to make sure retirees keep our benefits that were promised to us."
Ed Adams, the retirement services officer, is a retired sergeant first class. He served 22 years.
"It's informative," Adams said of this event. "The theme speaks for itself: 'Retiree and Family Member's Guide to the Future.' There is an unknown. It's our job to dissimilate (information) as quickly as possible to keep folks informed. What if? Plan for the future but still say what if. It's an unknown. It's a scary thing when you depend on the system to support you, to take care of you. And so you're looking for answers that you're not sure of. And so we have to assist them in sort of getting what they deserve."
This includes all branches of the service, not just Army retirees. Adams can assist retirees from the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard by directing them to the points of contact in their particular branches.
"And it's a great opportunity for retirees who normally don't get together in mass to fellowship," he said, "getting back in touch with your buddies. There is a common bond that every retiree has regardless of their military affiliation. They deserve to be recognized because they set a path, a way for us, who came up behind them."
Friday brings an information health fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Officers and Civilians Club. Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation will have activities throughout the day. Tricare briefings, with questions-and-answers, will be provided.
"They're going to have an FMWR tour of the post. In fact they're going to have two of them -- one at 9 a.m. and then another one leaving at 12 (noon)," Jean Manley, assistant retirement officer in the Retirement Service Office, said.
There will be a pay-as-you-go breakfast buffet, sponsored by Woody Anderson Ford, for $3 from 7-9 a.m. A lunch buffet is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring pulled pork, catfish, fried chicken and salmon, for $8.
Friday evening at 5 in the club's Monte Sano Main Dining Room will bring prime rib and other steak dinners. There will also be a German buffet for $14.95. Evening reservations are required by calling the club at 830-2582.
Besides the health fair at the club, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service will also be available with information.
Saturday's activities at the Sparkman Center begin with a social hour from 6:30-7:45 a.m. and registration. Continental breakfast will be provided by FMWR in the Sparkman Cafeteria, building 5302. A county fair of information tables -- including veterans agencies and organizations, VFW, VA and Tricare -- will be held in both building 5302 and Bob Jones Auditorium's building 5304.
Maj. Gen. Jim Rogers, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command and senior commander of Redstone Arsenal, is to give opening remarks from 8:15-8:30 in the auditorium. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks will speak from 8:35-9. Bob Schneeweis, director of benefits and financial education with the Military Order Association of America and a retired Coast Guard captain, will speak from 9-9:20.
FMWR will give briefings on Redstone's future infrastructure changes from 9:20-9:45.
"We're going to have nice surprise door prizes," Moudy said. "We've got some good ones, I'll tell you. We have some nice door prizes this year."
After a break from 9:45-10, with the Army Materiel Command Ensemble Band, speakers are to include Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton, deputy staff judge advocate Maj. Carla Peters, Fox Army Health Center commander Col. Elizabeth Johnson and retired Sgt. Maj. John Benedict of DFAS' Cleveland Center. Activities continue through 2-2:45 p.m. with the grand prize giveaway.
Sponsors include Woody Anderson Ford, Boeing, United Services Automobile Association, Association of the United States Army and the Redstone Arsenal Military Retiree Council.
"Redstone Arsenal is proud to host its 40th Retiree Appreciation Days on Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 honoring military retirees and their families," retired Col. Henry Oldham, co-chairman of the RSA Military Retiree Council, said. "Nearly 30,000 invitations were mailed to retirees in the immediate area although attendees regularly come from as far away as Maine and California."