Retirees Helping Retirees in the KMC

by Courtney Woodruff
Stripes Europe

While most military families spend only a handful of years in the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC) before heading back to the States, for some, Germany becomes home. But what happens if you or your spouse ends up retiring from the military overseas? What will you do without the protection offered by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)? Don’t worry; Retirees Helping Retirees (RHR) has got your back.

RHR is an all-volunteer force of seasoned U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force veterans that provides assistance to servicemembers who have transitioned or are preparing to make the transition to civilian life in the KMC. According to Program Coordinator CMSgt (R) Jim Barrante, the organization’s overall mission “is to provide a platform for other retirees — and especially surviving spouses — to reach out to for answers concerning issues that affect their quality of life.”

RHR aims to fill the gap of benefits no longer available to KMC retirees after separation from the military. Organization members offer assistance with everything from shopping to accessing medical care to securing a German driver’s license. In 2016, 34 experienced volunteers who have “been there, done that” spent more than 3,500 hours helping 5,000 retirees and surviving spouses in the KMC.

In addition to volunteers, the organization relies on the community to help those who have sacrificed so much for the nation. “A real big plus for all retirees in this area has been and continues to be the positive support from the [Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC)] commander,” Barrante stated. “LRMC support has been fantastic. The medical staff really cares about the retired population.”

He goes on to share a story of how a LRMC nurse case manager reached out to RHR to seek assistance for a Wiesbaden retiree being treated at the hospital. When it was time for him to leave, a volunteer was able to pick him up and arrange transportation to get him back home.

Barrante urges the community to help by learning more about the retiree program, as well as the free services offered by RHR in the KMC. Public meetings are held quarterly in the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center (KMCC), and outreach events are scheduled every six to eight weeks at different locations in the community. Additionally, the 86 AW Retiree Activities Office (RAO), located on Ramstein Air Base (RAB), is open for assistance Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments can also be made for retirees on other days as needed.

Connect with Retirees Helping Retirees on Facebook, and find out more information on their organization’s official page on www.ramstein.af.mil

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