By By Ben ShermanSeptember 6, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Fort Sill will host the 34th annual Retiree Appreciation Days here Sept. 20-22.
A full schedule of events is planned for retirees who attend the three-day event.
Mark Winburn, Fort Sill Retirement Services Officer, is amazed that Fort Sill has kept something like this going for so long.
"It's a great distinction for the garrison, the commanding general and the Fort Sill Retiree Council. We're very proud of what we do here," said Winburn. "We've been sharing our ideas with other Army installations, because their retiree appreciation events consist of about two-to-three hours, and we have a three-day event. The other retiree council presidents want to know how we do it."
Winburn retired from the Army after 24 years. He then served on the retiree advisory council for six years before becoming the Fort Sill RSO in March. His area of responsibility for retirees is Oklahoma and Arkansas, but he's been pleasantly surprised that retirees come for the appreciation days from other states.
"Retirees come from as far away as Kansas, Missouri and other states. They tell us they like coming to our event, because we do so much for them," he said.
Many different directorates at Fort Sill get involved to make the retiree event special. Retirees and their spouses are encouraged to schedule appointments with the legal assistance office, located on the fourth floor of the Welcome Center, 4700 Mow-Way Road. Attorneys will be on hand to prepare wills, advance directives, medical and durable powers of attorney and give legal advice to retirees on other matters. Retiree with appointments will have priority over walk-in clients. To make reservations call 442-058/5059.
Sept. 20, Reynolds Army Community Hospital will host their retiree open house all day. The hospital will offer the flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines as well as glaucoma screening and dental screening. Retirees can consult with medical personnel to identify the risk factors of coronary heart disease and visit many booths to get information about other healthcare concerns.
The RACH pharmacy encourages retirees to bring a list of all medications they take for review by a pharmacist to look for potential problems. The hospital will offer a special lunch in the dining facility to honor the retirees.
Sept. 21, retirees will be special guests at the Fort Sill retirement ceremony on the Old Post Quadrangle. After the ceremony the garrison will provide buses for two tours. One tour will go to the Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery museums, while the other will go to the Fort Sill National Historic museum and historic district. Afterwards, retirees may eat lunch with Soldiers at Garcia dining facility.
"We think it will be great for Soldiers to meet these veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. We even have quite a few veterans from the recent Gulf wars," Winburn said.
The highlight of Friday evening's activities is the annual retiree appreciation banquet, featuring retired Air Force Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom who is the Benefits Information Department deputy director for Military Officers Association of America.
"The banquet is the most popular thing we do. Last year we planned to seat 375 retirees and their spouses, and we had to find seating for an additional 25 guests who signed up at the last minute. This year we are planning for more than 400 people," Winburn said. "We charge $10 for the banquet tickets, but that only covers part of the costs. The retiree council picks up the difference with the funds we raise through the annual golf tournament in May and other sponsorships. That's why I'm so proud of the Fort Sill retiree council."