Retirees aided by regional, local advocates

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Recently, Hill AFB’s geographical representative attended the U.S. Air Force Retiree Council, whose mission is to address issues important to retirees.

Retired Lt. Col. John Lannefeld, along with 10 to 12 other representatives, met and discussed issues that pertain directly to retirees such as the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), indefinite ID cards for spouses at 65 years of age, and commissary benefits.

Lannefeld says the council’s purpose is to “bring the issues that retirees are facing to the forefront and let the retiree community know what is taking place” with the intent of supporting retirees and resolving concerns they may have.

“Issues have been resolved legislatively and internally that have benefited the retiree community and some of the other issues are going to be resolved shortly,” said Lannefeld.

Locally, all military retirees and their dependents receive support from the Hill AFB Retiree Activities Office (RAO).

Col. David Dunklee, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander, provides military oversight of the RAO and said it serves as a single source for information on all retiree support services.

“Retirees have earned benefits through their years of service,” he said. “We proudly support our retirees at our clinic, pharmacy, commissary, AAFES Exchange, and other services throughout the base. These services and benefits have evolved over time and it’s important that retirees remain in-the-know about these changes.”

The current RAO director is stepping down from his position and a new volunteer is needed to take over, working one on one with local retirees and keeping leadership and the USAF Retiree Council informed about how retirees are doing at Hill.

“The RAO director is a vital link between our retirees and the services we provide to those who have served,” said Dunklee. “The director is the voice of our retiree community, advising the installation commander on issues relevant to our retirees.”

According to Dunklee, the next RAO director must be someone with a “passion to serve, who loves to work with people, and who understands we owe a debt of gratitude and support to our retirees that served honorably to protect our nation.”

Rewards gained from volunteering as the RAO director are not monetary, but perhaps more valuable and gratifying than most material things money can buy.

“Volunteering for this position is less about giving of your time and more about sharing life’s experiences,” said Dunklee. “Every retiree has a story to tell. Often, a retiree’s visit to the RAO begins with a question or a concern, but ends after a few shared war stories or other experiences during their time in the military. The warmth and wisdom you gain is priceless.”