FORT STEWART, Ga. - Retirees and Family Members traveled from neighboring states for the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Retiree Appreciation Day, Oct. 21, and obtained current beneficiary information along with a heartfelt welcome from Third Infantry Division leadership. Providing the latest information for retirees and Family Members is the primary goal of RAD and is a requirement in accordance to AR 600-8-7.

"Retiree Appreciation Days are conducted to keep retired Soldiers and their Families up-to-date on changes in their retirement rights, benefits and privileges and to foster good will between the retired and active-duty communities, Retirement Services Officer for Stewart-Hunter Lyndia Smith said.

Adding to the occasion, the 3rd Inf. Div. band played patriotic tunes prior to the start of the program.

"This [RAD] is a great way to honor our retirees, once a Soldier always a Soldier," Lt. Col. Edward Kovaleski, garrison commander of Hunter Army Airfield before the start of the program said. He added that retirees play a critical role in the recruitment of future Soldiers. Lieutenant Colonel Kovaleski briefly spoke to welcome attendees and outline the day's events prior to introducing 3rd Inf. Div. Commander Maj. Gen Robert "Abe" Abrams.

Major General Abrams brought smiles to the faces of the attendees when he stated "I'm the warm-up guy."

Following a brief video highlighting Marne Soldiers during deployment and training exercises, Maj. Gen. Abrams spoke about the status of the division to a standing room, only crowd. Major General Abrams candidly spoke about the division's rapid deployment cycle since 2002 and future challenges for the division.

"We are an Army division that is in the 21st century… we have the latest state of the art combat systems that are digitally enabled," explained Maj. Gen. Abrams to the crowd that included Vietnam veterans. "Most of you were Cold War warriors and, at that time frame, and I was a lieutenant in that Army. We had to be ready for any mission, any time, anywhere… Now, we have a very unstable world, depending upon your viewpoint, it's either an era of persistent conflict or persistent commitment."

He added that the mindset of today's Soldier has changed from persistent deployments and redeployments to simply being ready for the mission as directed by the President and National Command Authority.

After speaking for about half an hour, Maj. Gen. Abrams opened the floor for questions. Retirees later heard from a Defense Finance and Accounting Services representative just prior to breaking for lunch.

Retirees spoke directly from representatives ranging from retirement services, Army Community Services and AAFES during their afternoon fair session to gain information and assistance.
The Directorate of Human Resources Retirement Services office sponsored RAD and is hard at work at planning future sessions.

"My staff and I, basically are the primary coordinators of the event," Smith said. "Our entire is staff personally connected to this event as we are either spouses of retired Soldiers or a retired Soldier. We try to take care of our retirees and their Families like we want to be taken care of."
What is most rewarding for Smith is when a retired Soldier or Family Member says "thanks for all that you do for retirees."