Base honors service, sacrifices of retirees
“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause,” a quote from President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, many veterans have made it their responsibility – long after they have traded in their uniforms for civilian attire – to continue caring for their fellow service members.
According to the 2015 Statistical Report on the Military Retirement System, over 2 million military retirees live in the U.S. That is 2 million friends, neighbors or family members who have sacrificed their time, body and mind to the freedom Americans enjoy today. But some continue to serve even after their call of duty.
Retirees who serve at the 19th Airlift Wing Retiree Activities Office continue their service to their nation by ensuring veterans have the resources and support system needed to transition from military service, seek help in navigating the process in attaining military benefits or simply providing a support system for those who still need the camaraderie offered while serving alongside their brothers and sisters in arms.
For retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Donald Smith, a director for the base RAO, the transition from active-duty service into the civilian sector allowed him the opportunity to reflect on what left the greatest impression on him while serving.
“What do I miss most? The people,” said Smith, who serve in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1998. “I miss it because I’m not able to have an input and impact on people’s lives in that manner.”
For retired U.S. Army Col. Henry Ward, it was about continuing to serve the people who honored their nation by serving in the military.
“The main reason this country is what it is today is because of (the veterans) who fought for our freedoms and believed in this country,” said Ward, who served 37 years in the Arkansas Army National Guard from 1955 to 1992.
Together, along with other volunteer retirees, the RAO staff continues their service by helping Arkansas’s 25,817 strong retiree community.
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