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Retirees stay connected after leaving military

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – -- After retiring from military service, there are many ways veterans want, and need, to stay connected to services and facilities on base.

The Peterson Air Force Base Retirees Activities Office is available to help retirees navigate services and provide awareness of new events and programs.

There are two basic areas the office serves, said office volunteer and retired Air Force Col. Bob Koenig. Those areas include using services, like medical facilities, and volunteerism efforts, in places like clinics and the Peterson Air & Space Museum.

“We are facilitators, we can point you in the right direction,” said Koenig. “We are a place where you can talk to someone to find a point of contact. Retirees want to be part of the total force and still want to serve. We can facilitate information.”

Ted Gambczynski, Peterson Air Force Base Retirees Activities Office director, said the office can provide information to retirees about what services are available to them on various area bases, including benefits they might be eligible to receive. He said new retirees are often unfamiliar with specific benefits and the process for accessing them, and his office can show the way.

Requests made to the office typically have simple answers, but Koenig said one question often leads to another, and having someone to talk with face-to-face is preferred by many of the people he assists.

Retirees visit Peterson for a number of reasons, but in Gambczynski’s and Koenig’s experience the top places retirees go on base are to the pharmacy, the Exchange and the Commissary. The Silver Spruce Golf Course, Fitness & Sports Center, Bowling Center and Aquatic Center are also popular spots with the group.

Most visits and calls to the office fall into one of three categories: financial questions, including allotments; survivor’s benefits; and casualty assistance. In these cases, staff are well versed in connecting people with the best source for answering questions and meeting needs.

“We are constantly gauging what the retirees’ interest is,” Koenig said. “We do, or don’t do, things based on that.”

One thing they are considering is placing an information kiosk in the concourse between the Exchange and Commissary.

“It would be easier to get to for the typical retiree,” he said.

Something Koening said the office could use is more involvement from younger retirees. He encourages those who are not long retired to volunteer and get involved to help the office best meet the needs of those it serves.

The office is open from 9 a.m.-noon weekdays. For more information, call 556-7153.

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