Retired Lt. Col. Arvonette Burrell works out regularly at Gaffney Fitness Center.
A few weeks ago, another retiree at Gaffney told him about Fort Meade’s annual Retiree Appreciation Day.
Burrell attended the daylong event, held Friday at McGill Training Center, to hear the latest updates on TRICARE, the DoD health care program.
“It gives you a chance to interact with people who may share the same situation as you and can offer solutions,” he said. “It’s like getting an update on the information you need to know.”
About 660 retirees and spouses attended the event, which featured free flu shots administered by Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center and lunch at the Freedom Inn Dining Facility.
Anna Taylor, Fort Meade’s Retirement Services officer and organizer of the event, said one objective of Retiree Appreciation Day is to provide retirees with the latest information on estate planning, health care and veteran benefits.
“It is mandated that all Retirement Services Offices conduct an annual RAD to provide retirees and their families current information on changes in retirement rights, benefits and privileges, and to foster goodwill between retirees and active-duty communities,” Taylor said.
About 38 vendors from Fort Meade and the surrounding community also participated. They included Fort Meade’s Army Community Service, the Army Substance Abuse Program, Retired Officers’ Wives’ Club, Francis Scott Key Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, Corvias, the United States of America Women’s Museum, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Social Security Administration, and U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association.
Col. Beverly Maliner, chief of Preventive Medicine Services at Kimbrough, said the facility provided free flu shots to prepare retirees for the upcoming winter season.
“Vaccination is the single best way to protect the members of the Fort Meade community from influenza infection,” Maliner said. “ … People over age 65 years of age are most likely to be sick enough to require hospitalization or even die. Plus, they can spread the flu virus to other vulnerable people.”
Focus On Health
About 18 medical vendors from Kimbrough were on hand to discuss the importance of mammograms and glaucoma screenings, diabetes management and other health conditions.
Shane Murr, a health educator at Fort Meade’s Army Wellness Center, along with other staff promoted their “Retiree Strong” education class, which focuses on the well-being of retired service members.
“Retirees are eligible for all AWC services. This includes our individual assessments like body composition, metabolic and fitness testing, stress management, health coaching appointments and group classes,” Murr said.
“We focus on primary prevention and health education so we can be a great tool for retirees looking to gain a better working knowledge of their health needs in order to stay well into their later years.”
Sarah Stein, director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center at the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities, said retirees stopped at her table to ask how they can support the caregiver of a family member.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides funds to states to offer a wide range of programs to help caregivers with monthly support groups, educational workshops, stipends to pay for respite care and other resources throughout Anne Arundel County, Stein said.
A formal ceremony that included a panel of professionals, who serve retirees and spouses, was held during the afternoon session.
The Meade High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Color Guard presented the colors. JROTC members Maj. Johnna Knight and Staff Sgt. Caroline Hester sang the national anthem.
Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Terry Whiteside gave the invocation.
In his welcome, retired Col. Bert Rice, chairman of the Fort Meade Retiree Council, greeted the audience. “We know that what happens here is helpful to a lot of people,” he said.
Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard expressed his appreciation to retirees for their service and contributions to the Fort Meade community.
“I am very grateful for what you do to influence future generations,” Rickard said. “I stand on the shoulders of giants like you who came before me.”
Rickard talked about the growth of Fort Meade and the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a combatant command. He said within the next five years, Fort Meade’s workforce will grow by 1,800 people.
The increased workforce, he said, means more traffic and the need for additional security at the installation’s gates. Current construction projects to widen Route 175 and rebuild the access control points at Mapes and Reece roads are all a part of the expansion, Rickard said.
Panelists included Yosefi Seltzer, a legal assistance attorney for the Fort Meade Office of the Staff Judge Advocate; Daniel Spicer, director of the Directorate of Public Works; Col. Allen Smith, deputy commander for nursing at Kimbrough; Sonya Lloyd, a TRICARE education specialist; and Phillip Munley, director of the Veteran Service Program and the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs.
Each gave a 20-minute presentation. Topics included the importance having a will, the Army’s funding for future construction projects at Fort Meade, the need to complete patient care surveys, the requirement for retirees to enroll in Medicare Part B, and the availability of veteran cemeteries in Maryland.
Retired Spc. Mary Payne, a resident of Laurel, said she attends the event each year not only for the important information on benefits and services, but also to interact with her peers.
“I come to meet other people and hear and share war stories with them,” she said.