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Giving back to those who served: Fort Drum MEDDAC provides health education to retired service members during 2018 Retiree Appreciation Day

FORT DRUM, N.Y. – Spc. Lizandro Piloer-Diaz, the Fort Drum Hearing Clinic noncommissioned officer in charge and a native of York, Pa., provides information on hearing loss and hearing protection to a retiree participating in the 2018 Fort Drum Retiree Appreciation Day at the Fort Drum Post Exchange Sept. 21. More than 400 retirees from across the North Country took part in the annual event and the Fort Drum MEDDAC was on hand to provide information on nutrition, tobacco cessation, alcohol awareness, TRICARE changes and occupational therapy to name a few. (Photo by Warren W. Wright Jr., Fort Drum MEDDAC Public Affairs)

Story by Warren Wright
Fort Drum MEDDAC

FORT DRUM, New York (Sept. 28, 2018) – Making a career of service in the military is not an easy feat. For those who do, maintaining readiness means working long hours, eating healthy, maintaining physical fitness and continually working to increase their job proficiency. However, once retirement begins, the active and healthy lifestyle of former service members can sometimes go to the wayside.

In order to help retirees develop and maintain healthy living, the Fort Drum Medical Department Activity joined other military and civilian agencies from the area during the annual Fort Drum Retiree Appreciation Day to provide retirees with health-related information and give back to those who sacrificed so much for their nation.

The Sept. 21 event hosted more than 400 retirees at the Fort Drum Post Exchange, and the Fort Drum MEDDAC was on hand to provide education on hearing loss and prevention, nutrition, tobacco cessation, alcohol awareness, occupational therapy and upcoming TRICARE changes to name a few.

“The Army has moved to a Soldier for Life mentality, so we want the retirees to feel like they are still appreciated for their service while also promoting the healthy lifestyles they had while they were in the service,” said Maj. Kyle Lindholm, the Fort Drum Preventative Medicine chief and audiology chief. The Retiree Appreciation Day gave MEDDAC representatives the “opportunity to give back to the Soldiers that served before us and provide the education we have here.”

Throughout the day, retired service members from multiple branches toured the various MEDDAC tables, browsing health information brochures, getting hands on with displays and talking to health professionals about their health goals.

“The information brings great value,” said Juan Carrasco, a retired Army combat engineer and a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico. “There’s a lot of information to absorb – a lot of things retirees might not be aware of what’s out there for them.”

In addition to providing health information and guidance, the Fort Drum MEDDAC also coordinated for more than 100 retirees to receive their annual flu shot.

Carrasco believes maintaining the healthy lifestyle retirees had while they served may be difficult, but not impossible.

“When serving, your body is used to a certain type of lifestyle,” he said. “When you retire, you develop a new lifestyle. You slow down and you may get things you didn’t get before because you were healthier. You need to keep up with your nutrition, flu shots, stay healthy and eat healthy, and maintain a healthy weight.”

“You have to get back to that mentality of, ‘hey, I need to take care of myself like I did when I was in the service,’” he added.

Overall, the event was a great success according to Col. Dean Harrison, the Fort Drum garrison commander.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “It warms my heart to see these folks come out here and I really appreciate the efforts of our agencies here at Fort Drum and the units who are out here representing their (organizations).”

For more information on the services available to retirees, call the Fort Drum Retirement Services Office at (315) 772-6434 or email usarmy.drum.rso@mail.mil.

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