Story and photos by Bardia Khajenoori
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
USAG Stuttgart welcomed retired U.S. military personnel from all services to its annual Retiree Appreciation Day held on October 25 at Patch Barracks.
The event brought together a variety of different agencies and organizations to provide information and services under one roof, with participants ranging from the Veterans Administration to the American Legion. The Stuttgart Law Center and Dental Clinic were on hand to arrange appointments (with some dental patients being seen within hours), and the Health Clinic even offered flu shots on site. Attendees were also treated to briefings from Mark Overberg and Stacy Hendrix, retiree services chiefs of the Department of the Army and IMCOM Directorate- Europe, respectively. New to this year’s agenda was a presentation on host nation tax implications for active and retired service members in Germany.
Coordination for the gathering took nearly five months and involved 24 agencies, according to organizer and garrison Retiree Services Officer Gus Norvel.
“Retiree Appreciation Day is meant to pay tribute to retirees who have honorably served in our military and to show them that they have not been forgotten,” Norvel said. “It’s important to have all these agencies here at one time because many retirees in Europe are in remote areas or far from their old post.”
Norvel said that participants came from as far away as Augsburg—a nearly two-hour drive in the best of traffic conditions.
Emily Valles, an Air Force retiree who has been in the Stuttgart region nearly twenty years, agreed that convenience is a major factor in a community whose members and installations can be so geographically dispersed. “It’s really hard to keep track of so many changes, from Tricare policies to postal availability, so the one-stop shop is very helpful to stay connected,” said Valles.
Col. Neal Corson, garrison commander, pointed out in his opening remarks that retirees play an important ambassadorial role—not only at home, to areas and people who may have little connection to the armed forces, but also to the German communities in which many are now integrated. For that reason and others, “retirees are an extremely important population for us to support,” said Corson.
To that end, the garrison is actively recruiting members to its Retiree Council, which gives voice to the needs and concerns of local retirees of any service. Interested candidates should contact the Retiree Services Office at 07031-15-2641 for more information.