Ron Quillen, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, remembers a widow who was crying over her late husband who had served in the military.
“I was out at the commissary one day and there was this older lady that sat in a wheelchair crying her heart out,” the Goodyear resident said. “Her husband had died, but in the process of their time in the service, there was one piece of paper that he didn’t sign and that was the one piece of paper that would allow her to have an income after he died.”
Quillen said the grieving widow lost everything due to the lack of information she and her late husband possessed on how to handle legal documents. It is because of stories like these that he volunteers to run the Retiree Appreciation Day.
Luke Air Force Base Retiree Appreciation Day is 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The event will consist of multiple information desks where veterans can get different kinds of information. Its purpose is to assist retirees with information and to keep them linked to the military family.
“We are bringing in about 50 information desks and we cover anything from the medical center to the attorney general’s office,” Quillen said. “The attorneys come there and if you have legal questions or if you want to set up a will, they will be there.”
The RAO provides information such as federal and state benefits for veterans and their family members, medical facilities, retirement pay, veterans’ affairs and burial benefits for retirees, veterans service organizations, former spouse eligibility such as TriCare and dental plans, as well as other programs.
Attendees are also encouraged to “bring your arms,” as immunizations will be given, as well as to bring any legal questions they may heave. Judge advocates members will be there to assist retirees with legal issues.
The Luke AFB RAO is located at 7383 Litchfield Road, Building 1150, Suite 1181, Luke AFB.
Quillen said his passion stems from the time he served in the military. He served in the Air Force from 1957 to 1961. But because he broke his back in 1960, and had a limited military career, he has found a way to give back to its members by volunteering with the Retiree Appreciation Day.
“I didn’t get much of a military career and I didn’t fight for our country,” Quillen said. “This is my way of paying back, because I didn’t serve 20 years and the taxpayers pay my living, so I think I owe the taxpayers something.”
Quillen sees a need for a service that gives veterans information due to an influx of inquiries received every day from people looking for information.
“We get phone calls all day long at the office asking, ‘Where do I get family assistance? How do I get housing? How do we do this? How do we do that?’”
He said it is difficult to watch older veterans who don’t have access to the information that is constantly updated. He holds spouses who have lost a significant other close in his heart.
“One of the saddest things you have to do is, when somebody loses a spouse and they don’t know which way to turn, we steer them in the right direction,” Quillen said.
Although Quillen is excited to see people from the Luke community participate in the event, he is dedicated to all the branches and not just the air force. Because of this, he said he has “spent many days and nights at hospitals with veterans and their families.”
His duty, today, is to assist as many veterans as he can and to continue to spread the wealth of information that is available to military families, as he described it.
And the ROA mission is “to provide information to veterans, because a lot of stuff that comes out, they just don’t get. A lot of them don’t have computers.”
The ROA is meant to educate retirees and veterans who may be unclear on a topic or need assistance. Quillen said the ROA is something all bases are required to do if they are able to find volunteers to run the office. And at the age of 80, he is looking forward to continuing to serve his country in any way he can.
“We’re not looking for anything other than to be able to contact veterans. That’s our sole purpose and drive,” Quillen said.