Retired Sgt. 1st Class Michael McChesney reads from a sight card during his optometry checkup with Sgt. Nicky Granados at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic for Retiree Appreciation Day May 12.
<div id="others"> <ul> <li> <a href="/media/198175/"><img src="http://www.army.mil/content/images/2011/05/26/198175/size3.jpg" width="150" alt="Experts provide answers for military retirees" /></a> <div class="title" style = "font-weight:bold;"></div> <div class="caption">Retired Sgt. 1st Class Michael McChesney reads from a sight card during his optometry checkup with Sgt. Nicky Granados at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic for Retiree Appreciation Day May 12.</div> </li> </ul> </div>
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Questions come easy when you’re a military retiree.
When do I qualify for Social Security benefits? How do I straighten out my Veterans Affairs paperwork? What about my spouse; does she qualify for anything?
The answers, at least for retirees living overseas, are harder to come by.
“It’s really about being able to speak to an expert for what they (as retirees) want to know,” said John Herron, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s retirement services program manager, speaking about the garrison’s May 12 Retiree Appreciation Day.
From Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits to health care and taxes, subject matter experts were on hand for the Retiree Appreciation Day. Most of the experts were hosted at the Wiesbaden Health Clinic.
“I was here to see Tricare,” said Frank Bowman, a retired staff sergeant living in Bad Krueznach. “I’m turning 65 in less than a year. I need to know what to do.”
The 20-year military veteran is one of thousands of military retirees and one of 40,000 U.S. federal beneficiaries living in Germany.
“Most of the time (retirees) want to know about Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits,” said Ralf Fischer, a claims representative with the Social Security Administration Federal Beneficiary Unit in Frankfurt.
And most military retirees don’t know that they need to enroll in Medicare Plan B in order to continue receiving Tricare coverage after turning 65, said Fischer.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Chandler smiled as he walked down the front entrance hallway of the Wiesbaden Health Clinic. After a doctor’s appointment that checked his health " from vision and blood pressure to prescription renewals, Chandler said the appreciation day was “very helpful.”
“The one-stop shop (set-up) is great,” said Chandler. “It’s the best thing the garrison can do. But the health clinic really is the best part.”
For retirees living overseas, medical appointments with military clinics are difficult to obtain " active duty Soldiers and their family members are given first priority.
The inclusion of available medical appointments for retirees is a big draw for the garrison’s annual Retiree Appreciation Day.
“It feels good because we don’t get to see retired Soldiers that often,” said Spc. Jordan Moore of the Wiesbaden Health Clinic. “They drive from miles away just to get here. From a health clinic point of view it is important to them in to check their lab work and their vision.”
“Patients do appreciate what we’re doing for them,” said Moore.
For more information on Social Security benefits, call the FBU in Frankfurt at (069) 9055 51201 or visit www.usembassy.de.