Maj. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, delivers opening remarks at the annual Retirement Appreciation Day, hosted by the Fort Drum Retirement Services Office to celebrate the service of veterans and their families. The event included an opening ceremony, town hall, K9 demonstration and site tours of LeRay Mansion, Memorial Park and the Army Wellness Center. Attendees were able to get legal services inside Clark Hall, as well as free blood pressure checks and flu shots at the Exchange.
Beagle administers the oath of enlistment for future Soldiers during the 2021 Retiree Appreciation Day opening ceremony Aug. 28 outside Clark Hall. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Fort Drum welcomes retirees to appreciation event
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 30, 2021) – Fort Drum welcomed members of the military retiree community Aug. 28 to celebrate their service to the nation during Retiree Appreciation Day.
The annual event, hosted by the Fort Drum Retirement Services Office, kicked off outside Clark Hall with an opening ceremony followed by a Fort Drum Retiree Council Town Hall meeting.
Maj. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, delivered opening remarks.
“When you think about Retiree Appreciation Day and what it means, what we have to keep in mind is all of those who have paved the way for not only those who are currently serving, but for the future generations,” he said.
Beagle said that retirees are often easily identifiable by the hats they wear, adorned with pins of the units they served in, and the bumper stickers on their cars.
“When you talk to active-duty Soldiers, they will tell you that this is something they won’t do,” he said. “‘I won’t wear that retiree hat that says I am a veteran when I get out, I’m not going to grow a retiree beard when I get out or put all those bumper stickers on my car.’ But it continues to happen, over and over and over.”
Beagle said that it happens because veterans are proud of their service, and that does not diminish when they retire.
“You are very proud of that,” he said. “And you want to tell people, and you want people to know ‘I served my country. Whether I was asked or not, I did my part.’ We appreciate you. We appreciate your service and dedication.”
Brenda Pennels, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army (CASA) for the state of Maine, served as guest speaker at the ceremony. Although she never served at Fort Drum, it was the first military installation she ever visited.
“In 1978, I was a cadet in the University of Massachusetts Army ROTC program and came to Fort Drum for the first of many weapons qualification events,” she said. “It was quite emotional for me 40 years later, in 2018, when my Army life came full circle and I revisited Fort Drum in my work with Martin’s Point Health Care.”
Pennels spent even more time on post as a Retiree Council member, and she said it was an honor to return to speak at this event.
“This day, Retiree Appreciation Day, is a day for the military community here at Fort Drum to show our gratitude for the years of service that you gave to our Army,” she said. “It’s also a chance for you to reconnect and recommit to our Army.”
Pennels said that every veteran has an Army story to share, and she encouraged attendees to do so as a way to inspire and enlighten the next generation of service members.
“It could be the reason that a young man or woman makes the decision to join our force,” she said.
As a CASA, Pennels said that she works with local recruiters to make sure recruits aren’t having doubts before they leave for basic training.
“I have found that a phone call or a visit to a young man or woman is sometimes all that it takes to make them realize that they have already made the best decision,” she said. “Remember, every little bit counts. You don’t have to be a mega-influencer to make a difference. We can’t afford to just sit on the bench.”
Pennels said that retirees can also become involved in the ETS (Expiration of Term of Service) Sponsorship Program and support retiring and transitioning Soldiers in their communities.
“Sponsors provide friendship, mentorship and encouragement as transitioning Soldiers navigate the unfamiliar territory of civilian life, home ownership and employment,” she said.
For more information about this program, visit https://etssponsorship.com.
The ceremony concluded with an oath of enlistment ceremony. Six future Soldier stood next to a retiree and active-duty Soldier while Beagle administered the oath.
Dakota Jeffers said that her father is an Air Force veteran, but she chose to enlist in the Army for a different kind of adventure. She said that she was grateful for the opportunity to attend the ceremony and meet with veterans and retirees who shared their experiences with her.
“This was very meaningful for me,” said Jeffers, from Dolgeville. “Just to see everyone here, it makes me happy and I feel at home.”
After the ceremony, a shuttle service was provided so attendees could take advantage of legal services inside Clark Hall, visit static displays and informational booths at the Exchange, and tour Memorial Park, LeRay Mansion and the Army Wellness Center.
For information about retirement services at Fort Drum, visit https://home.army.mil/drum/index.php/about/Garrison/directorate-human-resources/MPD/retirement-services-office-rso.