2014 Retiree Appreciation Day
In addition to information about local services and resources, attendees to the annual APG Military Retiree Appreciation Day received assurances from post leaders that they are a vital part of the APG Family.
APG Senior Leader and commander of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, encouraged retirees to keep the questions and comments coming so he and APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton can stay apprised of their issues.
“I’m a believer that our Army is the most respected profession because of our veterans and retirees,” Crawford said. “People say retirees and veterans are in our communities. I say retirees and veterans are our communities.”
Hosted by the APG Retiree Council, the annual program brings post and local organizations together in a single forum devoted to providing information and resources to military retirees, their spouses and survivors.
McClinton thanked the retirees for attending and encouraged them to contact him and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Adams, “to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our retired community.”
“In my opinion, every day is retiree appreciation day,” he said.
The day started with retirees taking in organization and vendor displays then moved on to round table discussions from service providers followed by a Q&A session.
Retired Lt. Col. Nelson Laughton, council chair, hosted the program and retired 1st. Sgt. Tom Shumate, chief, Military Personnel Officer and other personnel from the Garrison’s Human Resources Directorate assisted. The guest speaker was John Radke, chief of Army Retirement Services, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
Radke talked about the retirement process, reviewed Army Regulation 600-8-7 and the Retirement Services Program. He focused on the Soldier for Life initiative and told listeners to keep apprised of information through the soldierforlife.army.mil website. He noted that there are more than 500,000 retirees in the nation and more than double that amount of survivors and spouses.
“That’s 2.2 million people we touch directly or indirectly,” he said.
He said retirees should keep up with issues affecting them through the “Army Echoes” newsletter that is issued three times a year, in February, June and October, and now is available as an app for iPhones, iPads and android phones.
Noting that the Army Career and Alumni Program has been renamed Soldier for Life, Radke said it maintains its transition assistance mission.
“We want you to be a Soldier for life,” he said. “Our job is to sustain you – to tell you how important you are so you can be an ambassador.”
He described the Army Retirement Service Office (RSO) website as overall easier and simpler to use” with links to Army Echoes, blogs and a FAQ database.
“Please check out this site, it’s extremely important,” he said. “Most importantly, on behalf of all of us who work for you, I just want to say thank you. We are proud of your service.”
Panel discussion
During the panel discussion, DFMWR Director Mike Lupacchino invited listeners to attend the second APG Oktoberfest set for Oct. 24 & 25 with activities centered at the APG North (Aberdeen) recreation center. Events include a Festhalle with German foods, children’s activities; a car show, Volksmarch and market place with about 30 vendors, as well as live entertainment. For more information, visit the MWR website at www.apgmwr.com or call 410-278-4011.
He also invited guests to check out the jazz concert set for Nov. 29 at Top of the Bay featuring saxophonist Mindi Abair and guitarist Nick Colionne. Later post events include the Dec. 3 Holiday Tree Lighting festivities. In addition, 2014 White House ornaments are on sale.
Lupacchino and McClinton also addressed a question about the former Thrift Shop.
McClinton said the shop, which was run by a private organization, was not bringing in enough revenue and could not continue to operate due to the cost of operating on the installation.
Panel members included representatives from AAFES, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic, the Veterinary Treatment Facility, Corvias Military Housing and the Harford County Commission on Veterans Affairs.
Organization displays
APG Organization displays included the CECOM Deputy Inspector General; Army Community Service (ACS); the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP); KUSAHC, the APG Dental Clinic and Army Wellness Center; and MWR.
At the CECOM IG display, Deputy Inspector General Melvin Graves said he’s been “telling folks anyone can come to the IG and bring any issue.”
“We are fair and impartial fact-finders,” Graves said, “the eyes and conscience of the commander, and gatherers of information about morale and readiness.”
He said anyone – active duty military; government civilians; contractors; Family members and visitor to APG - can bring an issue or concern to the office.
“If it’s not appropriate we will refer you to the proper channels.”
For more information, call 443-861-4302 or email melvin.j.graves.civ@mail.mil.
At the KUSAHC display, Health Benefits Advisor Deborah Dodsworth distributed patient information brochures as well as a list of retiree medical services. They include on-site specialty clinics; TRICARE enrollment assistance; preventive health clinics; and more.
“KUSAHC can still serve as your primary care location even after the age of 65,” Dodsworth said.
For more information, contact Dodsworth at 410-278-1719 or email deborah.a.dodsworth.civ@mail.mil.
Laura Goodpasture represented the Women’s Army Corps Veterans Association, Maryland’s only chapter of the national organization. Goodpasture said full or associate membership or is open to women of all branches of service who have served or are currently serving. She said the organization, which meets 11 a.m. the first Saturday of each month at the Aberdeen Senior Center, focuses on serving women veterans in local communities and at the Perry Point Veterans Affairs Military Center in Perryville.
“We’re always recruiting,” she said, noting that many of the group’s founding members served at APG in the 1960s. “We need younger members to carry on the good work of this chapter,” she said.
Veteran Service Organizations
Local organizations included Aberdeen’s Freestate Chapter 70 Women’s Army Corps Veterans Association (WACVA); Bel Air American Legion Post #39; The Harford County Commission on Veterans Affairs; and The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).
Vendors included USAA, Getting There Ride Share, TRICARE, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR);and the APG Federal Credit Union (APGFCU).
Several attendees said they gained a lot of information during the event.
Retired Navy reservist Jeff Whitehead and his wife Raynea from Pennsylvania were visiting APG for the first time.
“We love it,” he said. “It was great to see so much information and services all in one place.”
Another Navy reservist, Joe Pagano, said he regularly visits the APG Commissary and uses MWR services.
“Every event we go to is Army,” he said. “They really take care of their people. I learned more in two days here than I learned my whole career.”
“It was well prepared and well presented,” added George Martin, a former APG police officer, retired Army sergeant first class who also is retired from federal service. “But I would have liked a law enforcement presence,” he said.
According to Retiree Council President, Laughton, the next Retiree Appreciation Event is set for May 9, 2015 when it will kick off APG Armed Forces Week events.
Check the APG News and APG social media sites for more information.
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