Retirees attend the Retiree Appreciation Days retiree expo at the Solomon Center, where they gathered information about programs that can help them. (Photo by Thomas Byrd)

How 'RAD:' in-person retiree expo returns

By Emily Hileman and Tom Byrd, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Fort Jackson re-introduced armed forces retirees to many benefits and programs during the first in-person Retiree Appreciation Day expo held since 2020 at the Robert B. Solomon Activity Center, May 20.

“It’s very important that we return to the in-person because we have been COVID-bound for the last three years,” said Regina Harlan, Fort Jackson’s retirement services officer.

RAD activities were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Activities partially resumed in 2021 and 2022, but in a drive-thru format, mirroring many other activities during the height of the pandemic.

During the drive-thru RAD event, retirees received “RAD Bags” which were full of useful information from various supporters and contributors, but vital services to retirees such as dental, medical and optical screenings were unavailable.

Harlan said more than 30 exhibitors such as Army Community Service, Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services and several other entities dedicated to the care, treatment, and quality of life of veterans and military retirees flocked to the Solomon Center for the return of the RAD expo to “bring updates, benefits and services to our retiree community.”

In addition to several entities distributing information and benefits to the retirees, Mark Overberg, the Army’s director of retirement services, traveled to Fort Jackson from the Pentagon to check on retirees and speak to the crowd.

Overberg said it’s important for him to be on the ground, seeing and talking to veterans because the best way to find out if we need changes to policy and to see how our veteran population is doing is to come out and simply talk to them.

“We definitely want to keep a connection with all veterans,” Overberg said. “But retirees are a special case … they are the folks who have served the longest and they have additional benefits.”

If you’re planning to retire soon, you may already be behind the power curve, Overberg said.

“I recommend Soldiers prepare for retirement three years before they want to retire,” he said. “On our website, we have a retirement planning toolkit that walks them through 36 months before through six months after retirement.”

For this toolkit and more retirement resources and information visit their website at or contact the Retirement Services Office at 5450 Strom Thurmond Blvd, Rm 117.