Fort McCoy News September 25, 2015

Hundreds attend Retiree Appreciation Day

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

More than 400 military retirees and Family members attended the 2015 Retiree Appreciation Day (RAD) at Fort McCoy.

Once a year, the Soldier For Life-Retirement Services Office (SFL-RSO) coordinates RAD as a way to provide the latest information on benefits and services available to military retirees, said Retirement Services Officer Mitzi Hinton.

Photo 1
Retired Navy Cdr. Katherine O'Neill Tracy with the Military Officers Association of America provides a legislative update to attendees at Fort McCoy's Retiree Appreciation Day, held Sept. 11 in building 905.

"Overall, it went very well, and the turnout was solid," Hinton said. "Based on the plan we had, how that plan was carried out, and from the response I received from the visitors, RAD was overwhelmingly a success."

RAD included a full schedule of activities. The morning was filled with briefings at building 905. A wide array of speakers gave updates on TRICARE and related health care, veterans services, retirement benefits, legislative actions that could affect retirees, and more. In the afternoon, a benefits fair and military expo was held in building 90 (Wisconsin Military Academy).

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Charles Weaver of Sparta, Wis., attended the benefits fair as the deputy veteran services officer (VSO) for Monroe County, providing information on what VSOs provide for veterans. He said RAD presented a great opportunity for retirees.

"I think events like this are good because they present a lot of good (information for things) that a lot of retirees might not have known existed," said Weaver, whose last duty station was Fort McCoy, where he retired from the Army. "The fair (for example) had a lot of good information about TRICARE; the VA (Veterans Affairs); and many, many other benefits. It's awesome, and it's always a good thing to have these kind of events."

For one retiree, the Fort McCoy RAD was among the best he has ever attended.

"I've been to (RAD events) in Minnesota and this one multiple times," said retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Lyle Fridlund of Hudson, Wis. "(The Fort McCoy RAD) is very informative. Here, they bring in a lot of the top officials who have a lot of information to help us retirees. Fort McCoy, simply, puts on one of the best events around."

Fridlund also said the 2015 RAD provided an opportunity to see some former comrades. "I met with some guys I knew when I was still in (the Army)," he said. "(It was) really great to see them and catch up."

Photo 2
Military retirees and Family members attend a benefits fair in building 90 as part of Retiree Appreciation Day Sept. 11.

Hinton said RAD provides an opportunity to remind military retirees about pre-retirement and post-retirement services services available at SFL-RSO.

Pre-retirement services include individual pre-retirement counseling; preparation of the Retired Pay Application, DD Form 2656; Career Status Bonus/REDUX counseling; and active-duty survivor assistance. Post-retirement services include assistance with retired pay actions; providing TRICARE, Medicare, and Social Security information; referral to the Veterans Administration; obtaining lost service documents; and more.

"As service members approach the final chapter of their military careers, they deserve to have a transition that is thorough," Hinton said. "They need assistance with the process and understanding their benefits and entitlements, and we are here to help."

The date for the 2016 RAD will be set soon. For more information about RAD or the SFL-RSO, call 608-388-3716 or toll free at 800-452-0923.