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American servicemembers who retire in a country such as Italy sometimes have a hard time keeping up with their benefits.

So officials at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza and Aviano Air Base hope to provide information, answer questions and generally make retirees feel welcome on base at a series of events starting Friday.

“The reason is just to recognize retirees and the service they’ve given to their country,” said John Kirby, a former soldier who runs the retirement activities office at Aviano.

Friday will kick off three days of activities at Aviano. Local experts from the community will offer presentations at Sabre Hall beginning at 9 a.m. Most of the information will revolve around health issues. The base’s dental clinic will treat dozens of retirees on Saturday, and the weekend will conclude with a picnic on Sunday.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Defense Commissary Agency are offering specials geared for retirees during the weekend event. AAFES and DECA will also help out a few days later when Vicenza hosts its fourth annual Retiree Appreciation Day on Sept. 25.

Tracy Galindo, the retiree services officer for southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, hopes to have hundreds of retirees make the trip from several different countries. There are about 3,500 retirees listed in his computer network in countries all around the Mediterranean and points farther east and south. He said he regularly receives inquiries from as far away as Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

A few of the speakers presenting information will make the trip from other countries as well. Retired colonel John Radke, who serves as retiree service officer for the Department of the Army, will provide an update from the service’s perspective. Robert Mendell, the retiree council president for U.S. Army Europe’s region, will talk about overseas issues. And Richard Groccia, the consul general at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, will talk about federal benefits.

All that takes place before lunch. After lunch, retirees will be invited to an open house of sorts with personnel on hand from numerous local groups to answer questions and provide services.

Galindo says those interested in a health screening should show up at 7 a.m. to get blood taken so they can have breakfast before listening to the program, which starts two hours later.

Though Aviano’s event might be heavily loaded toward former Air Force members and Vicenza’s geared mostly for ex-soldiers, Galindo said retirees from all branches are welcome.

“We can provide them with information as well,” Galindo said, adding that many issues pertain to former servicemembers across the board.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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