FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The Special Events Center was abuzz Oct. 13 as thousands of veterans gathered for the annual Retiree Appreciation Day.

"It's the biggest crowd in memory," said Carolyn Hill, chief, Transitions/Retirements, who estimated the crowd at 2,000 retirees and spouses. "None of this would have been possible had it not been for teamwork."

Organized by Retirement Services, Fort Carson Retiree Council and other Fort Carson agencies, scores of retirees took advantage of the warm autumn day to attend the event.

Forty-six booths offered health screenings, blood pressure checks, health tips, powers of attorney, new identification cards and vehicle registration.

Armed Forces Bank and Security Services Federal Credit Union representatives were on hand, as well as the Better Business Bureau and Society of Military Widows.

American Legion, Fort Logan National Cemetery, Veterans Outreach Center, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Retired Enlisted Association and Military Officers Association of America had booths. Representatives were also present from Association of the U.S. Army, El Paso County Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and American Military Retirees Association and many others.

Retirees and spouses lined up for flu shots, discussed pay issues with representatives from Defense Finance and Accounting Service and picked up brochures from several tables.

During busy times, retirees waited in line outside the entrance, then were greeted by Army Junior ROTC cadets from Fountain-Fort Carson High School, who handed out tickets for door prize drawings.

A table of complimentary bagels, cookies and fruit was the first stop for most visitors, which was courtesy of the Noncommissioned Officers Association, Mountain Post Chapter No. 154 at Fort Carson.

Coffee was also provided, both at McMahon Auditorium, where many retirees and spouses gathered at 7 a.m. to hear opening briefings on medical, finance and retiree issues, and at the SEC.

Many people came to the RAD for a flu shot, such as Melissa Mabry, spouse of a retiree. She was one of 786 people who received flu shots administered by members of the nursing staff at Evans Army Community Hospital.

Bob Kidd retired from the Army in December 1995. "This is the first time in 17 years that I've attended, he said. "I came because I had a question for TRICARE about dental." He got the answer.

Retiree Victor Carabailo said he looks for people he's served with when he attends a RAD. At 10:30 a.m., he hadn't yet seen a familiar face but he struck up a conversation with three other attendees as they had coffee and bagels while sitting at one of the tables near the breakfast area.

The group was engaged in animated conversation that contained a lot of military acronyms.

Some lucky retirees won door prizes that were handed out throughout the morning. Dixie Roberts, human resources assistant at Retirement Services, said that Scheduled Airline Traffic Office donated seven beach towels and four pop-up chairs. Four $25 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards were also given out.