Office helping retirees may soon be empty
Stars and Stripes June 14, 2003
RAF MILDENHALL, England — Ed Moran will soon leave his position as director of the Retirees’ Activities Office in the passenger terminal here.
His fear, as the retired Air Force chief master sergeant plans his move to Florida, is that no one will replace him and all that he has done in the past seven years will be for naught.
“It’d be nice if someone would stick their hand up and come learn the ropes and pick my brain,” Moran said.
Moran and his deputy, Cliff Scott, will both leave in September. They, along with Scott’s wife, Maria, have been the heart and soul of the office that looks out for the interests of more than 17,000 military retirees living north of the Alps, including about 3,200 in England and nearly 10,000 in Germany.
In their time as advocates for retirees, they have seen the benefits grow to include postal and banking privileges as well as use of the exchanges and commissaries on bases throughout Europe.
In recent weeks, the retirees were able to get the mail weight limit raised above 16 ounces for prescription medicines shipped from the States.
Those things happened, the men said, because someone was on duty at the office to keep an eye on the issues.
“That’s the way things happen,” said Moran, 69, “but if there’s nobody in the office to do that …”
Scott, 78, and Moran both fear their progress may be reversed as the government continues to look for ways to cut costs and personnel.
“I think the terminal will take over the office and it will close down” if no one volunteers to replace them, Scott said.
The position carries no salary and is filled by appointment by the base commander. Scott and Moran, along with Maria Scott, have dedicated themselves to the job, each working hundreds of hours a month, helped by other volunteers.
On weekends, they meet the Freedom Bird, the chartered flight carrying military members and families to and from the United States, and passing out candy to children and helping adults with any problems.
During the buildup to the war on Iraq, they regularly welcomed troops passing through the base and provided sandwiches and coffee.
Moran admits that may have been more than the job required. But, he said, there is much that needs to be done to continue caring for retirees and their spouses.
He said widows are frequently in need of help from his office to pay for funerals or solve problems with survivor benefits. Some working retirees have called for help with missing paychecks.
“We get a lot of calls from people who need help,” Scott said.
Moran said the deadline is nearing for someone to take his place to avoid losing the office. It is even more dire for the U.K. Retiree Benevolent Fund, which helps in many ways, from providing nursing care for an ailing spouse to buying firewood for a retiree suffering from cancer.
That fund may be abolished as soon as Saturday.
“I can’t get anybody to be president. I’m the secretary. And the treasurer is 83 years old,” said Moran. “We already made the decision to dissolve it [unless someone volunteers this week].”
Moran said younger retirees are not interested in his position because past efforts have been so successful. Few have any complaints.
But times change, he said, and the progress of the past can vanish in the future.
“Kids getting out of the service now have everything on a golden platter,” he said.
The U.K. Retirees’ Activities Office operates a Web site at: www.ukretirees.org.