Retiree council presents requests to Yongsan colonel
Stars and Stripes March 1, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A full-service Veterans Affairs office and better access to on-base medical care topped a list of requests by Yongsan-area retirees during a monthly meeting with U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan commander Col. David Hall on Thursday.
“VA is working to assist us with very limited resources,” said Retiree Council chairman Chris Vaia.
He said the VA office on Yongsan Garrison is staffed to help active-duty servicemembers receive their benefits upon leaving the service, but is unable to provide all of the services the Yongsan retiree community needs.
Hall said he would need more information, including the number of retirees in the area, the anticipated demand for additional services and the staffing required for a full-service office, before he could endorse a request to the VA.
Council members also complained of delays in receiving appointments at U.S. Army Hospital-Yongsan and asked for Hall’s help in increasing the number of available appointments for retirees.
Hall said the hospital could not currently meet any additional demands and doesn’t have the “capacity or the staff to meet the demands of active duty and their families.”
Under Tricare rules, active-duty servicemembers and their families form the top two tiers of a system used to determine who gets the first shot at appointments in military facilities.
Among proposals brought before Hall was a request to have active-duty Army specialists and sergeants escort retiree families to the Retiree Appreciation Day breakfast.
Hall asked Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Rusch to examine the possibility of an “Adopt a Retiree” program that would pair active-duty servicemembers with retirees for social events.
The year-old Yongsan Retiree Council meets the last Thursday of every month to discuss issues with the garrison command team. Its members also try to distribute information to the Yongsan retiree community, which Vaia said is at least 600 strong.