Military retirees celebrated at Appreciation Day
Event has most successful turnout in its history
By Lisa R. Rhodes
"I think the event was marketed very well," said Anna Taylor, Fort Meade's Retirement Services officer.
The daylong event, held Friday at McGill Training Center, was sponsored by Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein and the installation's Retirement Services Office.
More than 15 organizations, including the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities, Fort Meade's Army Community Service and Army Substance Abuse Program, distributed information about programs and services.
The Francis Scott Key Chapter of the Association of the United States Army provided complimentary coffee and Danish. A seating area was also made available for participants.
"[The event] allows retirees to come and obtain the most current information and updates on retiree benefits and programs," Taylor said. "A lot of people also reconnect with people they haven't seen in a while."
Medical personnel from Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center provided free flu shots and blood pressure and proper posture screenings, as well as information on mammograms, colonoscopies, diabetes and proper nutrition. Staffers from the Dental Activity provided free screenings for oral cancer.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Muriel Wood received a flu shoot and an oral cancer and blood pressure screening.
"This is very helpful," said Wood, a Forestville resident who retired from a military police unit at Fort Meade in 2005. "They offer services at one time, so I don't have to make a special trip to my doctor. I also come to stay abreast of what's going on at Fort Meade."
Capt. William Biggers, a legal assistance attorney at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate and chief of the Fort Meade Tax Center, said he attended the event to "let retirees know they are entitled to our services."
Bigger said retirees are eligible to receive free assistance in preparing taxes, wills and estate planning.
Vicki Galpin, a field representative for Johns Hopkins Medicine, said retirees are eligible for access to Johns Hopkins primary and specialty care physicians and hospitals through the TRICARE Prime option.
"Retirees can receive care in the community that is local and convenient," she said.
For lunch, the retirees were bused from McGill to the Freedom Inn Dining Facility. They later returned to McGill, where they were greeted by Rothstein.
"You've got my absolute gratitude ... my thanks and appreciation for everything you do," Rothstein said.
He noted that retirees continue to serve long after the end of their military career.
"When you take your uniform off, you don't leave the uniform hanging in the closet," he said.
Rothstein presented a brief update on developments at Fort Meade, including partnerships with Howard and Anne Arundel counties to provide golf opportunities for the Fort Meade community; the construction of a new veterans clinic; a new Exchange; and two new child development centers.
Rothstein also discussed Picerne Military Housing's construction of new garden apartments for service members.
"Open communication is critical as we continue to build," he said.
Rothstein also invited retirees to meet with him one-on-one during his open door policy hours on Monday afternoon.
The guest speaker was retired Navy Capt. Jim Carman, director of Career Transition Services for the Military Officers Association of America.
MOAA is the nation's largest and most influential association of military officers. It is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, according to its website.
Carman spoke about the federal government's pending sequestration when $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts are due to take place on Jan. 2. The spending cuts are an attempt to reduce the nation's deficit.
Carman said the sequestration, or "fiscal cliff" as dubbed by many financial journalists, calls for a 15 percent across-the-board cut in discretionary spending, including $500 billion for the Department of Defense over the next decade.
"Fortunately, most of the nondiscretionary retiree programs that affect many of you are exempted from the direct impact of sequestration," he said.
However, Carman said there will be a "significant economic impact" on the country if the proposed cuts are implemented.
Carman urged retirees to contact their elected representatives in Congress and "ask them, respectfully, to do their job."
He said that Congress, in its lame-duck session after the presidential election, must work to resolve the nation's budget crisis.
Carman also spoke about MOAA's live and virtual career fairs for veterans, military spouses and federal employees and its nationwide job and resume bank for senior enlisted service members.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Al Eisner, a resident of Silver Spring, call the event "outstanding."
"It's just the fact that they reach out to veterans and that we're not forgotten," he said.
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