CAMP DODGE, JOHNSTON, Iowa - Iowa Army and Air National Guard alumni from around the state met Saturday, Aug. 17, at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. Their mission wasn’t a tactical one, but one of camaraderie, remembrance and education.
The 28th annual Iowa National Guard Alumni Day provided an opportunity for veterans to visit Camp Dodge, receive benefit updates and support information, and renew old acquaintances.
“All of you have dedicated your lives to serving your community, state and nation for many years. I promise you this team will continue to take care of soldiers, airmen, their families and employers, while keeping the organization mission-focused and Warrior ready.
“Above all,” said Orr. Thank you for your continued support of our Iowa National Guard,” said Orr.
The Adjutant General’s address also informed them of what they could expect from the Iowa National Guard in the coming year.
“We continue to keep an extremely challenging pace in the Iowa National Guard, but I feel it’s beginning to level off to what I would call the new norm. The commands and staff are working extremely hard in a number of areas to train Soldiers and Airmen, sustain the already high levels of readiness in our deploying units, and continue to attract and retain good Iowa Guardsmen and women across the state,” said Orr.
“We understand that this is your day and we’ve worked very hard to ensure we provide you with updated information and get your questions answered,” added Orr.
Alumni Day representation included vendors from across Iowa who wanted to get the word out about their organizations. Retired Chief Warrant Officer Don Lane, a member of the Warrant Officers Association, Chapter 319, set up a station for his chapter and said this was a great opportunity to connect with retired Iowa National Guard warrant officers.
“Our mission is to join all the warrant officers together in the state to promote the warrant officer corps within the Army and the state of Iowa,” said Lane. Alumni Day was a great opportunity to meet with retired warrant officers and encourage young enlisted soldiers to join the warrant officer corps,” he said.
This is the fourth Alumni Day that Lane has attended, and in his mind, one of the best.
“There is a certain value to networking,” said Lane. “My favorite part of Alumni Day is seeing everyone come together, once again, to renew old acquaintances and past comradeships.”
Another opportunity offered to alumni was learning about current medical and dental benefits offered through TRICARE and Delta Dental. This, according to retired Master Sgt. Rick Fedson and his wife, Maureen, who were attending Alumni Day for the first time, was the most valuable information.
“We learned so much about the benefits of retiring from the Iowa Guard. A lot of these young guys come in, do their five-to-six years and leave, without realizing what they’re giving up. My wife and I are more aware of how lucky we are to receive those benefits because of the information presented today,” said Fedson.
Along with the educational presentations, there were also camaraderie-building events, such as the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum tour and ice cream social.
“I’ve seen people here today that I haven’t seen in 20 years. It’s nice to have somewhere to come together like this. The whole day has been great and we’re already looking forward to next year,” he said.
Alumni Day visitors were asked to fill out cards asking how they thought the day’s events went, which would be used to perfect next year’s events.
According to Lt. Col. Chuck Connors, the Alumni Day officer-in-charge, “This is a year-long planning process and a team effort that includes not only the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, but the civilian population as well.”
Although it’s a big task, it’s an honor to be a part of it, he added.
“I want to make sure we give something back to those who gave so much to us. The alumni here are the people who set the stage for the success we have today. The one thing I would like them to know is, we’re here for them, anytime they want,” said Connors.
Bottom line, Alumni Day was a reminder to Iowa National Guard alumni and their families that they’re still a part of the Iowa National Guard.
“At the conclusion of this day, alumni should leave not only with current information and their questions answered, but also knowing we care about their concerns and view them as valuable members of the Iowa Team,” said Orr.