A chance to serve - a second time
By Tech. Sgt. Dorian Chapman , 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 16, 2008
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
For many active duty military members, retirement is the brass ring; that pie-in-the-sky, trouble-free netherworld filled with beaches and golf courses and blue, sunny skies. But the reality is, military retirement status is simply another step on the path of life. And like all the other steps, it comes with its share of positives, negatives and challenges.
Those challenges have been met with the Department of Defense Retiree Activities Program that has established a Retiree Activities Office at almost all military bases, including Goodfellow Air Force Base. Here, Steve Willey, RAO director, provides information to the military retirement community. The administrative coordinator for the office is Col. Merrily Madero, 17th Training Wing vice commander.
"My job is to act as a liaison between the active duty force and the retirement community, to include families and survivors," Mr. Willey explained.
The RAO disseminates a hardcopy newsletter twice per year to more than 5,000 retirees and family members in the local area.
The newsletter informs retirees of the latest news of interest to the retirement community and also acts as a reminder that the RAO is there to help if needed.
In addition to the newsletter, Mr. Willey takes phone calls and walk-ins at his office co-located with the Airman and Family Readiness Center here. Often times, non-retired veterans also come to the RAO seeking helpful information regarding benefits. The office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
"The Airman and Family Readiness Center's main priority is active duty members and their dependents," Mr. Willey said. "The RAO was created to devote resources specific to retirees."
Mr. Willey, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant, has been filling this position since his retirement in 2003, and he's been doing it all for free.
"The Retiree Activities Program is a volunteer organization made up of military retirees and family members," Mr. Willey explained. "A volunteer force means people are involved because they want to be," he said.
After five years of dedicated service, Mr. Willey plans to step down as the RAO director to fully pursue his post-retirement career.
"The position was great for me when I first retired because I was going to school and it allowed me to continue to serve," Mr. Willey explained. "But after five years, I have to focus on other objectives in my life and I won't have time to commit to the position that it deserves."
Wing leadership is hopeful that another military retiree will take the reins after Mr. Willey leaves the position January 1, 2009. Any military retiree or family member can apply for the position, but Mr. Willey highly suggested candidates possess certain traits.
1. A desire to help retirees, family members and survivors
2. Ability to communicate with active duty leadership
3. Computer skills to access information of interest and disseminate to the retirement community
Qualified retirees and retiree family members can leave a phone message for Mr. Willey at 654-5388 or send an email to RAO@goodfellow.af.mil. For additional information, contact the Air Force Retiree Council Area VI representative at (210) 536-6418/2116 or toll free at (866) 654-3540 or email at RAO@brooks.af.mil.