APG Retiree Appreciation event offers abundance of information
Hundreds of area retirees attended the annual Retiree Appreciation Day at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center Oct. 20. The APG Retiree Council and Team APG hosted the event. Guests included Installation and CECOM Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell; Garrison and Deputy Installation Commander Col. Gregory McClinton and guest speaker Kenneth Preston, former Sergeant Major of the Army.
“We are here to take care of the men and women who took care of us,” McClinton said during opening remarks. “You are an important part of the Army community and we salute you.”
Retired Sgt. Maj. Frank Yoakum, co-chair of the APG Retiree Council, introduced Preston as “the longest serving Sergeant Major of the Army” and the president and director of Homes for Our Troops, the nonprofit organization that provides specially adaptive homes for Wounded Warriors.
Preston hailed the attendees as “recruiters,” “mentors,” and “force multipliers,” as strong supporters of services from the PX to Morale, Welfare and Recreation. He offered updates to the status of several pending and current initiatives such as the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) which will reinstate the 15-year retirement for noncommissioned officers denied continued service due to Qualitative Service requirements.
“The norm is still 20 years retirement,” he said.
He talked about and encouraged listeners to learn more about Survivor Benefit Plans (SBP), Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC), Current Retirement and Disability Pay (CRDP), and other benefit improvements.
Preston took questions from the audience and then praised retirees for their community presence in supporting the nation at war.
“I know retirees helped America say in touch and now that I’m retired I have a greater sense of just how much difference retirees make,” he said in closing.
He asked all to visit the displays and, “take advantage of all the installation has done to provide information for you.”
“All of you are key influences,” he said. “I’m very proud of all of you and your service.”
Attendees and vendors said the day offered productive interactions.
Julie Graham and Chris Davis, of the Elkton Vet Center and VA Maryland Health Care, said their focus was on providing information about counseling services for combat veterans as well as bereavement counseling and employment assistance along with their other services.
“A lot of people don’t even know these services are available so close to home,” Davis said.
Graham added that along with the Elkton location, VA outstations include one in Cambridge and another in Aberdeen at 223 W. Bel Air Avenue, 410-272-6771.
“Visit the website at www.vetcenter.va.gov for more information,” she said.
Cardell Bass, of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs signed up several retirees who requested information about filing claims.
“We’re a service organization and one important thing we do is assist veterans in filing claims,” Bass said. “It’s all to help them understand the VA process.”
“I really enjoyed the day. I got my ID and my [car] sticker renewed,” said Army retiree William Hendricks as he got his blood pressure checked at the KUSAHC display.
Antonio Bonilla, a former Marine who retired in 2010, said he enjoyed Preston’s presentation.
“It was good of him to take the time to come out just to talk to us,” he said. “It leaves you with a good feeling about the retire network.”
“Sarah Ballard, a Maryland Army National Guard retiree from Brooklyn, Md. Ballard said she usually attends the Fort Meade event but came to APG instead this year.
“I got a lot of good information,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed this.

Henry Allen, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, said all of his questions were answered during the Question & Answer session with Preston, who he spoke with afterward.
“I wanted to convey that while we appreciate the information and results we got from the [Suicide Prevention] stand down earlier this month, it needs to be stressed that there are not enough resources to treat everyone in need and that guys on the waiting list are committing suicide,” he said. “I got good feedback [from Preston] and I enjoyed this event more than I expected.”
APG Retiree Council members include retired Lt. Col. Nelson Laughton, chairman; retired Sgt. Maj. Frank Yoakum, co-chair; Betty Willard, Garrison retirement services officer; retired 1st Sgt. Tom Shumate; retired Master Sgt. Lonzia Hawkins; retired Sgt. 1st Class Louise Leon-Guerrero; retired Sgt. 1st Class Richard N. Zalusky and Janet Dettwiler, APG Adjutant General and director of Human Resources.
For more information about the council and retiree events and services, visit the APG Retiree Council website at www.apgretiree.com/.
View more Retiree Appreciation Day photos on the APG Flickr site at www.flickr.com/photos/usagapg.
[sidebar]Retiree spouse pleasantly surprised
Marsha Worthington came to APG for Retiree Appreciation Day activities from Pennsylvania’s Lancaster region. She said that before her husband, retired Navy Chief Petty Officer George Worthington, passed away in November 2011, he stressed to her the importance of staying connected to APG so she could stay informed about her benefits and other services.
“His last station was at a Reserve center in Lancaster. He was from Philadelphia so we stayed there and used the facilities in Reading (Pa.), but then he discovered APG which had even more facilities,” she said.
She recalled that her husband got his eyeglasses through the KUSAHC eye clinic and that they would occasionally visit the Post Commissary and Exchange.
“He always handled everything and he was concerned that I get out and get the information I needed.”
When her friend, APG Community Policing Officer Mike Farlow, mentioned the APG event, she knew she had to attend.
“I realized that now it’s up to me to figure out what’s available,” she said. “This was the perfect opportunity to learn more about what’s going on.”
She said the event offered “much more than I imagined.”
“I got a flu shot. I’m thrilled because I didn’t know I could get immunizations and vaccines,” she said. “I hope to get a new ID card today too.”
“And I was really impressed with the overall program,” she added. “I especially liked the guest speaker [former Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston]. I follow that information and I enjoyed his updates. It was very nice to see so much command interest too. You just don’t want to feel you’re getting in the way of the active duty personnel. But, everyone is so nice. They go out of their way to welcome you. I will try to come to APG more often. I may even participate in the walk [Nov. 10 Veterans Day 5K Run/1 Mile Walk,] next month.
“I’m leaving here feeling really good and more informed. I definitely intend to come more often. This community to me is wonderful.”

Lunch was served at the FMWR Bowling Center following the event.
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