Q&A with Rick Delaney

October 23, 2013 

Rick Delaney

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: I’d say 10,000 to 20,000. Maybe that’s overstating it, but I’d be surprised if I’m 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 it’s not just pretty weather that keeps people here?

ANSWER: Oh no, it’s economics, but then again you never hear of anyone retiring to the north.

QUESTION: You’re 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 I’m fully retired and spend my time volunteering as director of the Retiree Activities Office (RAO).

QUESTION: What’s that?

ANSWER: Retired military volunteers helping retired military. We answer questions, mainly. It’s an all-volunteer office, and we’re 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. We’re there to say here’s 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. It’s 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 didn’t retire from the military. It’s all semantics, but there’s a difference.

The National Guard is a little different. There are some who retire from the National Guard, and if they weren’t activated for 180 days, I think it is, they’re not a vet. Even if they deploy 150 days and serve lots of years, they’re not a vet. But we’re working to change that. As far as I’m concerned, you wore the uniform, you’re honorably discharged, you’re a vet.

QUESTION: You also have another role in retiree-veteran services.

ANSWER: I’m national president of The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA). It’s 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 TREA’s 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 what’s 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 it’s to honor retirees. We consider retirees as still serving.

QUESTION: What are some highlights?

ANSWER: Beginning at 6:30 a.m. there’s 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 we’ll 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. there’ll be vendors, Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System reps, ID services and, hopefully, flu shots available. We’ll give door prizes from 2-3 p.m.

QUESTION: What’s the bottom line, and how can people find out more about RAO and TREA services and Saturday’s activities?

ANSWER: We’re 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 robins.rao@gmail.com.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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