FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - Military retirees from across the country are heading to Fort Sill Thursday for the 38th annual Retiree Appreciation Days celebration.
It's a 3-day event that starts at 8:30 a.m. and is open to retirees from all branches of the military.
Thursday there will be an open house with over 90 vendors to offer flu shots, talk to attorneys, update their wills and much more.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Allen Shell is part of the Retiree Council, and he says it's not only an open house but a sort of welcome back.
"These vendors are set up pretty much to basically support," Shell said. "Help any specifics that the retirees need. And it gives them a chance to come back to Ft. Sill. Everything from I.D. cards, wills, power of attorneys, a lot of the normal stuff which folks when they're kind of out in the middle of nowhere don't have a lot of the support and all, are able to come back to Ft. Sill and take care of a lot of those needs."
Friday will be a post-retirement ceremony followed by tours of the post, lunch and a full banquet that night at the Patriot Club. Saturday is a MWR event with a buffalo burger cookout at the Co-op Park.
Ft. Sill's Retiree Appreciation Day, or RAD, brings in 500-600 retirees in the first day's events, according to Shell.
He says, because it is open to retirees from all branches, it brings more people in. Shell says they take pride in what this event has become over the past 38 years.
"This is the largest RAD, Retiree Appreciation Day's, that goes on in the continental United States," Shell said. "And we're really proud of that fact. We hold the standard across the United States and across the Army."
The financial preparation begins months ahead of time, according to Shell.
He says one of the fundraisers they hold is a golf tournament during June. Shell says the money raised from that, goes toward the Retiree Appreciation Days.
He also says it pays for the wooden flag boxes that are presented to the veterans at the post-retirement ceremony on Friday.
Shell says even though the budget can shrink from time to time, it has never stopped them from putting the event on.
"We still want to continue to do things to help support the retirees, and we feel that it's important," Shell said. "I'd said this in years past, even if we only have two nickels to rub together, we're going to make this thing happen."
Shell says the event couldn't happen without the support of the Lawton-Ft. Sill community, and hopes people come to enjoy the celebration. This event begin Thursday at 8:30 a.m. at the Rinehart Fitness Center, Building 2730 on Bragg Road.