El Paso honors military retirees: 400 retirees receive education on their benefits
Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
Hundreds of retired veterans, both former active-duty and reservists, gathered at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Sept. 29 to honor and thank the men and women who have retired from the military.
Mayor John Cook and the Council for the city of El Paso signed a proclamation recognizing Sept. 29 as Military Retiree Appreciation Day for the city. MRAD is a day to recognize the retirees from all branches of the military for their dedicated service, patriotism and contributions to the country, as well as to inform them of their benefits.
“All of them deserve this honor for their selfless service to our nation,” said Jose Luis Hernandez of Fort Bliss’ Retirement Services Office. “They should be continuously thanked and honored for all that they have endured.”
The RSO helps more than 55,000 retirees, family members and survivors in the El Paso and New Mexico area by assisting with benefits, pay and other issues.
The ceremony started promptly at 9 a.m. in a military manner with the Call to Order and the presentation of the colors by the El Dorado High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps’ color guard.
Col. Brant V. Dayley, Fort Bliss Garrison commander, gave the opening remarks thanking the retirees for their past service. He also gave a detailed update about the growth and development of the post, especially East Fort Bliss.
Dayley said that since 2006 there has been more than $4 billion spent on construction for new facilities including offices, gyms, barracks and new homes to make Fort Bliss the premier installation in the United States. The number of Soldiers at Fort Bliss has grown to 35,000 and is still growing.
“Fort Bliss is committed to the retirees as much as Soldiers wearing the uniform,” said Dayley.
The keynote speaker for the day was retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp, who is the president and CEO of the National Association for Uniformed Services. NAUS is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization that fights for the benefits for servicemembers, veterans, retirees and their families from all branches of the military.
Klimp spoke to the retirees about different proposals that are being discussed in Washington D.C. and how the changes may affect the future benefits for veterans and retirees.
Col. Michael Amaral, chief of staff at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, gave an update on the progress and timeline for the new hospital.
Simone Coleman from Defense Finance and Accounting Service, talked about their retired and annuity pay.
Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, U.S. Army deputy director, TRICARE Management Activity, gave the retirees an update on changes to the TRICARE program.
The retirees received additional information as more than 30 services and veterans organizations set up booths to provide assistance.
The busiest booth was for the influenza vaccination provided by Soldier Family Care Clinic.
“We gave more than 200 retired veterans their flu shots today,” said Capt. Joel Osterhout, Army Public Health provider.
The day ended with a raffle and give-a-ways sponsored by the Army and Air Forces Exchange Service and other participating organizations.
Military Retiree Appreciation Day was a day to say thank you to all of the warriors of yesterday and to remember what they have endured and sacrificed in their long military careers.
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