MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Local retirees and their family members gathered at Marston Pavilion on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to participate in Camp Lejeune’s Military Retiree Appreciation Day, Sept. 24.
The event included a series of guest speakers ranging from local leaders to state level and Veterans Affairs officials.
"This event means a lot to anyone who is retired," said Paul Levesque, a retiree. "To know that the retiree community is appreciated once a year and for the various entities to come out here and provide medical screenings and information is great. It is awesome to have this event every year to keep the retiree community informed as to what is going on and to provide these benefits for us."
Guest speakers spoke on various topics that pertain to the specific needs of retirees and their families. Retirees were briefed on DFAS, VA healthcare, the future of healthcare for retirees, benefits and services offered to retirees at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and the current mission of North Carolina to serve veterans and their families.
"This day is very important to retirees, and it is important we keep this tradition going," said Fernando Schiefelbein, military retiree councilman. This provides a lot of information to a lot of folks who don’t get it. Onslow county and Jacksonville are very heavy with veterans nowadays. A lot of veterans are now staying because of the service and growth of Jacksonville and the relationship the city has with the base."
After guest speakers met face to face with retirees, lunch was provided for participants as well as a health fair, info fair, legal assistance, veteran’s services and Veterans Affairs representatives.
Retirees were reminded throughout the event that although they have left the brotherhood of active duty service, they are still apart of the military family, said Luis J. Alers-De Jesus, retired service coordinator.
"Retirees are from all over the country so their families are somewhere else," said Alers-De Jesus. "If something goes wrong, you have to count on the retiree or veteran next door to you. We are the family."