FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson Retirement Services celebrated the commitment of all service branch retirees in the Fort Jackson community with the annual Retiree Appreciation Days that started off May 17 with a retreat ceremony and salute to all retirees.

The guest speaker, retired Sgt. Major of the Army Jack Tilley, spoke of his pride for the Army and of retirees' responsibility to advocate for military health-care benefits.

"You can take me out of the military, but you can't take the military out of me," Tilley said. "I will be a Soldier until the day I die."

"We have to be cautious about what we do with our health care benefits, and how that will affect the military not now, but 20 or 30 years down the road," Tilley said. "We should make sure when we get around our congressmen and senior leadership we should talk about the importance of health care. ... It's about our families and our commitment we made to the military."

Friday's rain did not hinder retirees from participating in the golf tournament that began at 9 a.m. This year, more than 140 golfers participated. The retirees played in foursomes to compete for the winning slot, said Paul Tabor, assistant business manager of the Fort Jackson Golf Club.

A.C. Williams, a retired first sergeant, said he was happy to be able to attend the tournament and enjoyed the camaraderie with his retired friends.

"This is my first time at the tournament, here with my friends -- and this is joy," Williams said. "The weather is not too bad, but this is one of the best tournaments I've been to all year,"

Saturday, the Retiree Health and Benefits Expo at the Solomon Center gave the retirees the opportunity to gain more information about health and financial programs. The organizations represented included Defense Finance and Accounting, TRICARE and the South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs. Retired Air Force Maj. Yvonne Corppetts explained why she thinks it is important to attend the expo.

"This is an opportunity for retirees to come out and find the benefits the military still has to offer retirees, but not only that -- it's also networking," Corppetts said. "I took advantage of the blood pressure training, cholesterol training, insurance and opportunities in volunteering."