Q&A with Rick Delaney
City of Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Volunteer Director, Retiree Activities Office, 78th Air Base Wing, Robins Air Force Base
QUESTION: How many military retirees would you say are in Middle Georgia?
ANSWER: Id say 10,000 to 20,000. Maybe thats overstating it, but Id be surprised if Im far off. The economic engine at the end of Watson Boulevard draws military retirees as contractors and defense workers, plus the availability of base resources. People come from all over and stay.
QUESTION: So its not just pretty weather that keeps people here?
ANSWER: Oh no, its economics, but then again you never hear of anyone retiring to the north.
QUESTION: Youre retired military?
ANSWER: I retired 24 years ago after 24 years in the Air Force. Then I was computer geek for the multiple listing service Realtors use, the Central Georgia Multiple Listing Service, Inc. Now Im fully retired and spend my time volunteering as director of the Retiree Activities Office (RAO).
QUESTION: Whats that?
ANSWER: Retired military volunteers helping retired military. We answer questions, mainly. Its an all-volunteer office, and were not always there but can usually get there quick if we get a call.
QUESTION: What sort of questions?
ANSWER: About insurance and veteran benefits usually. About pay and casualty assistance issues, about mortuary affairs if a family member dies, things like that and whatever other questions arise. Were there to say heres what you need to do, or to help someone find out what to do. If I help one vet -- one retiree -- I figure my job is justified. Its all gravy after that.
QUESTION: Is there a difference between a veteran and a military retiree?
ANSWER: Yes, there is. All military retirees are veterans but not all veterans are military retirees.
QUESTION: Work through that.
ANSWER: Like me, some put in 20-years-plus and can retire. Others serve maybe a couple of years and are out but still they wore the uniform and put in their time. Both are honored veterans but both didnt retire from the military. Its all semantics, but theres a difference.
The National Guard is a little different. There are some who retire from the National Guard, and if they werent activated for 180 days, I think it is, theyre not a vet. Even if they deploy 150 days and serve lots of years, theyre not a vet. But were working to change that. As far as Im concerned, you wore the uniform, youre honorably discharged, youre a vet.
QUESTION: You also have another role in retiree-veteran services.
ANSWER: Im national president of The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA). Its the only all-enlisted vet service organization and it has about 40,000 members. We have a pretty active local chapter and welcome new members.
QUESTION: What is TREAs mission?
ANSWER: TREA has a legislative function working to slow or stop the erosion of earned and deserved benefits for all enlisted personnel, active duty and retired, no matter what the branch.
QUESTION: Saturday is Military Retiree Appreciation Day. Talk about that.
ANSWER: The RAO has it each year to bring retirees, particularly retirees not usually on the base but have access to it, up-to-date on whats available to them. From things like commissary services to golf course to the gas station to a general update on the state of the base. And its to honor retirees. We consider retirees as still serving.
QUESTION: What are some highlights?
ANSWER: Beginning at 6:30 a.m. theres a pay-as-you-go breakfast at Wynn Dining Hall with registration for door prizes from 8-9 a.m. in the Heritage Club Bingo Room. Then well have activities and briefings from 9:15 to noon then a pay-as-you-go lunch at the Heritage Club Pizza Depot. At 1 p.m. therell be vendors, Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System reps, ID services and, hopefully, flu shots available. Well give door prizes from 2-3 p.m.
QUESTION: Whats the bottom line, and how can people find out more about RAO and TREA services and Saturdays activities?
ANSWER: Were here to serve the retiree community, and the veteran community for that matter. These are uncertain times, scary times, for retirees and vets. We need each other. Both hats I wear are to help vets. Contact me at 478-926-0193 or 478-284-9879 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.