Front Range bases to honor retirees

Retirees listen to a presentation by Rep. Doug Lamborn during the 2009 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Air Force Academy Nov. 21, 2009. Congressman Lamborn represents Colorado's 5th Congressional District, which includes the Academy and Colorado Springs. The 2010 Retiree Appreciation Day is scheduled for July 24. (U.S. Air Force photo/J. Rachel Spencer)

Retirees listen to a presentation by Rep. Doug Lamborn during the 2009 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Air Force Academy Nov. 21, 2009. Congressman Lamborn represents Colorado's 5th Congressional District, which includes the Academy and Colorado Springs. The 2010 Retiree Appreciation Day is scheduled for July 24. (U.S. Air Force photo/J. Rachel Spencer)

Congressman Doug Lamborn speaks at the 2009 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Air Force Academy Nov. 21, 2009. Congressman Lamborn represents Colorado's 5th District, which includes the Academy and Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/J. Rachel Spencer)

Congressman Doug Lamborn speaks at the 2009 Retiree Appreciation Day at the Air Force Academy Nov. 21, 2009. Congressman Lamborn represents Colorado's 5th District, which includes the Academy and Colorado Springs. (U.S. Air Force photo/J. Rachel Spencer)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Sir Isaac Newton told a fellow scientist in a letter that if he could see farther, it's because he was "standing on the shoulders of giants."

Organizers of the Retiree Appreciation Day, scheduled for July 24 in Arnold Hall here, know what Newton had in mind. Like him, they say, they also stand on the shoulders of giants. And the organizers want those giants to be fully aware of the privileges they've earned in return for their service.

"A lot of times, retirees feel forgotten or left out," said Senior Master Sgt. Leo Castro, one of the event coordinators. "And I want to do my part to make sure they don't feel left out."
Hence the commitment to Retiree Appreciation Day. The annual event aims to acknowledge and thank military personnel from previous generations. Similar events are held at other military installations, so the Air Force Academy isn't setting any trends in that regard.

But the Academy has become the central staging ground for the Air Force's version of the event in Colorado Springs. In the past, it alternated between the Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base.

In 2009, though, the everybody-gets-a-turn format was dropped in favor of consolidation, and the Academy was designated as the host site. Last year, organizers spread the word via postcards sent to retirees from Monument to Pueblo in hopes of drawing a large turnout. They even brought in Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado's 5th District as a guest speaker.

Attendance at the event varies and has been in the thousands before, organizers said. They're hoping a saturation-style ad campaign this year will lead to a higher level of participation.

"We expect to have much more than that this year, with all the advertising we've done in the marketplace," said Chief Master Sgt. Stef Dunson, 10th ABW superintendent.

Kicking off the event will be introductory remarks by representatives of each of the three air bases. Then Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould will step to the podium and deliver a brief speech.

Following the speakers, the essence of Retiree Appreciation Day will begin.

"There's a huge information piece to it," Chief Dunson said, referring to the information fair, which is scheduled to begin at 10:05 a.m. and last until 2 p.m.

Booths at the event will offer blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks and vehicle decals, among other things, and also help retirees better understand Tricare. Sergeant Castro said that despite the heavy Air Force presence, the event is open to retirees of any branch of the service.

In addition, there will be a POW-MIA ceremony, but in contrast to last year's event, there will be no awards presentation this year.

Chief Dunson said organizers want to work with all three air bases to make the event bigger and better each year.

"All of us will eventually reach retirement one day. That's a given; that's a fact," he said. "This is the Year of the Air Force family, and retirees are a huge part of the Air Force family."

To request a booth at the information fair or for more information about Retiree Appreciation Day, call Sergeant Castro at 719-333-5621 or Master Sgt. James Gray at 719-333-5681. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m., and refreshments will be served.