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Sill plans Retiree Days

Why mess with success?

Consistency may be one reason why Fort Sill continues to have the largest  and longest  retiree appreciation event in the continental United States.

The Fort Sill Retiree Council is already making plans to hold its 39th annual Retiree Appreciation Days on the same weekend in September as always. This year's dates are Sept. 21-22. And, as in years past, organizers will piggyback it onto another popular event co-sponsored by Fort Sill Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce  the 36th annual Buffalo Burger Cookout.

Approximately 640 attended the open house that kicked off last year's event, according to Retirement Services Officer Roland Shirley. Retired Sgt. Maj. Edward Mounts, co-chairman of the Retiree Council, said it's not just for Army retirees, but all military retirees  Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, whether active duty, Guard or Reserve. Fort Sill's area of responsibility is military retirees living in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but a high percentage come from north Texas. Last year, the two who came farthest were from Illinois and Florida. There was only 80 miles difference between them, and the Illinois resident won the bragging rights for distance traveled.

Retired Col. Allen Shell, co-chairman of the Retiree Council, said that even though this is mandated by Army regulation, other installations have either canceled or downsized their events to cut costs. Some are two hours long and consist entirely of information booths.

"Ours, I think, is hands-down the best one," Mounts said.

The Fort Sill Retiree Council puts on a golf tourney once a year to raise funds for both Retiree Appreciation Days and the flag boxes that the council gives out at Fort Sill's monthly retirement ceremonies. Mounts said that currently, the Retiree Council funds 100 percent of the cost of Retiree Appreciation Days.

"Without them, we would only have a one-day event," Shirley said. Instrumental in putting the event together are Maria Gomez, retirement applications coordinator, and Marilyn Tyler, survivor benefits counselor.

If anyone attending lacks a military ID card, he or she will need to go to the Visitor Control Center on Sheridan Road, just inside the perimeter fence, to acquire a visitor's pass. Since Mow-Way Road will still be under construction at that time, Shirley said guests will need to follow the detour signs to get from the Visitor Control Center to the open house that kicks off Retiree Appreciation Days.

The open house will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 21 in Rinehart Fitness Center, Building 2730 on Bragg Road. Last year's open house drew more than 81 vendors, Shirley said. This year he hopes to have at least a hundred.

"We provided 280 flu shots last year," Shirley said. "We did 35 oral wellness screenings and handed out over 500 travel dental kits."

Reynolds Army Health Clinic will provide wellness information only this year. The Staff Judge Advocate will make available legal assistance staffers to help prepare wills, advance directives, medical and durable powers of attorney and give legal advice on other matters. Last year they were booked up before the open house took place, so it's wise to call (580) 442-5058 now to make an appointment. Golf carts will be available to transport retirees from Rinehart to Building 4700 for these appointments.

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