Screenshot by Emily Mihalik

Retired Brig. Gen. Michael Meese, the president of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, speaks during the virtual opening ceremony in Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Brucker Hall Oct. 29.

JBM-HH Retiree Appreciation Month goes virtual

Each year, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall hosts a Retiree Appreciation Day. This year, however, COVID-19 has not only affected the nation, but it has also affected how the base conducts business, observances and events.

To ensure that retirees still have an opportunity to take care of health, ID cards and other services that they are entitled to, the base will hold Retiree Appreciation Month during November.

The month kicked off with a virtual opening ceremony held in JBM-HH’s Brucker Hall Oct. 29.

Retired Brig. Gen. Michael Meese, the president of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, said this month’s theme is “Still serving the support and defend team in COVID-19 era remembering, honoring and celebrating military retirees and their Family members.”

Meese said when he looks at all the things he did in the military, he has fond memories such as friendships, camaraderie and pride in accomplishing important missions.

“Others are less obvious and require a closer study of your heart, mind and skill set that we developed over a career,” he said.

Meese also shared six things that he recalled from his time in uniform.

· Take care of yourself physically. He said a person’s physical health is the cornerstone of enjoying life after the military.

“The World Health Organization says we should all get at least 150 minutes of medium string physical activity per week,” explained Meese. “Meeting this goal lowers our chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic conditions.

“Military retirees have an incredible network of fitness programs and events to participate in. Push yourself to stay active. Your body will thank you, your spouse will be surprised and your doctor will be impressed with you.”

 

· Take care of your health. Meese said it’s vital for retirees to take care of their health by making sure they have an annual physical so they can create a baseline for their health. He also stressed the importance of being current on immunizations and preventive measures such as having a colonoscopy and cardiac stress test.

· Take care of your buddies.

“We are all together in the service and no veteran should ever be left alone,” Meese said. “We may not be deployed anymore but that doesn’t mean the stress of combat or the stresses of service is ever fully behind us. It’s vital to check with yourself and buddies with mental health and well-being.”

· Take care of your records. Meese asked how is an individual’s filing system and if he or she has all of his or her important information in a place that it can be found if something were to happen.

“I recommend (to) have (important documents) in a physical place and find a way to store digitally,” he said.

· Take care of your finances. Meese pointed out the importance of taking care of finances and making sure, an individual has enough money after retirement and during his or her life. He said people are living longer and that means more money will be needed for those extended years.

· Continue to respect the

 military profession. He said it’s important to maintain respect of not only the military but also the Oval Officer, regardless who is sitting in that office.

“My commitment was all the same — to support and defend the Constitution,” Meese said. “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for military leaders to strongly advocate their political ideologies.”

When Col. Kimberly Peeples, JBM-HH commander, spoke she agreed with Meese with saying this year has been like no other, and certainly, like none the individuals have seen before.

“The effects of the pandemic has changed our way of life, and while we are not able to join together in person, we are so grateful for this technology that allows us to gather virtually,” said Peeples. “(The technology) gives us the opportunity to express our gratitude to you and to your Family. I would like to thank each of you for your honorable service to our nation.”

Peeples added that JBM-HH is fortunate to have an active and engaged retiree community.

“We appreciate your time, contributions and generous support to the military community,” she said. “Your military service means something to you and that’s why you joined us here today. If you have more to give … please continue to be an advocate in your communities.”

During the opening ceremony, Peeples updated retirees about the changes since last year’s RAD. She said that as part of the base’s enhancement of force protection, an 8-foot black mental fence was constructed. The fence separates Fort Myer and Henderson Hall from Arlington National Cemetery.

“As part of that project, a walking trail was built along the western side of McNair Road and the Old Post Chapel parking lot got a beautiful facelift,” Peeples said. “We are also well on the way to achieving a master plan for the joint base to chart our infrastructure development from now to the year 2050 and beyond. It will be a realistic and necessary plan to preserve America’s Post.”

Peeples added that her priorities for the base continue to be the security, safety and services of personnel, residents and customers.

JBM-HH remains at Health Protection Condition Bravo. 

“We are focused on protecting the force, preserving readiness and mitigating the risk of transmission among personnel,” she said. “Through these trying times, I am appreciative of the outstanding partnership we continue to have with the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Retiree Council who work tirelessly on your behalf and who champion your concerns. The council possess a wealth of knowledge and experience and are an important asset to me and my command team.”

Pentagram Editor Catrina Francis can be reached at catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil.