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Linda Perkins, TRICARE referral office, KAHC, gives information to retired Capt. Tereasa Mitchell about TRICARE programs during the 2017 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Soldier Support Center. The 2018 program is set for Sept. 29, 8 a.m. (Photo by Amy Perry)

FORT LEE, Va. -- Military retirees and their spouses can expect a wealth of information, resources, services and special recognition at the annual Fort Lee Retiree Appreciation Day set for Sept. 29, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., in the Soldier Support Center, building 3400, B Avenue.

It will be followed by the annual Military Retiree Appreciation Ball that day at 5 p.m. in the Lee Club. The guest speaker is retired Command Sgt. Maj. Tracey Anbiya. Cost is $34 per person or $74 per couple. The ball sign-up deadline is Sept 14. Call 804-734-0005, 765-8675, 765-8883 or 943-4192.

“These events are a chance for all retired service members and their families to stay connected to the military and the resources that are offered to and for them,” said Cassandra Rawls, Soldier for Life - Retirement Services chief. “There will be a wealth of information and community services there offering support to the Fort Lee retired community. KAHC will have a health fair. The Red Cross, USO and several Veteran Affairs representatives also will be present to answer questions regarding retiree benefits. There will be assistance with understanding the TRICARE program as well as the updated dental program.”

Annual attendance at the RAD ranges between 300-400 individuals, according to Rawls. The conference-style event is dedicated to local area retirees but many come from other places like North Carolina and West Virginia. An estimated 19,000 retired military members receive support from Fort Lee SFL-RS.

Describing the RAD as “an ideal opportunity to receive the latest information on veteran benefits, services and pending policy and legislation,” Rawls said the gathering also has become a “one-stop-shop” for immunizations; blood pressure screenings; identification card renewals; notary, limited tax and legal services; and other assistance programs. Retirees also will be able to re-establish their myPay accounts.

“It’s just a well-rounded day to make sure we take care of our retired Soldiers and let them know we appreciate them,” said Rawls. “We try to add more to the program each year and receive many favorable comments for our efforts.”

The opening program for the event starts at 8:30 a.m. in the SSC auditorium. The featured speaker will be retired Lt. Col. Maria Bentinck, deputy director of the Army Retirement Soldier for Life office. Bentinck is responsible for all retirement services policies and oversight of the program's delivery to Soldiers, retired Soldiers and surviving spouses of all three Army components.

Rawls said she encourages retirees to come, even if they can’t get there for the opening ceremony or can only attend for an hour or two. The assortment of information booths – another regular feature of the event – is worth a walkthrough of its own, with staffers offering everything from health and wellness information to tips for using family support and veteran care benefits.

“The overall atmosphere is one of camaraderie and support,” Rawls noted. “Most walk away feeling very good about what I can only describe as being part of the Army family.”

Nothing bad has been said about the event freebies either. They include a free lunch for military retirees and family members.

For additional information about Retiree Appreciation Day, call 804-734-6555.