Army in Europe Retiree Council advises USAREUR leaders on retiree matters

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs
February 25, 2011

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- U.S. Army Europe leaders are listening to concerns raised by retired Soldiers in Europe.

Robert Mentell, the Army in Europe Retiree Council president and a retired colonel, said the Army in Europe Retiree council meets with USAREUR leaders regularly to discuss those concerns.

The Army in Europe Retiree Council, whose responsibility extends to the Middle East and Africa, advises leaders on policies and laws that affect the retired community.

One of the major issues the retiree council faces is military health care for retirees, said Mentell.

As budgets go down, efforts to catch up with the increasing cost of health care is raising questions among retired Soldiers overseas. For certain military retirees and their families, Tricare for Life is a secondary health insurance program supplementing Medicare. The program covers many out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and co-payments.

The council, in conjunction with retiree councils throughout the forces, wants to tie any future Tricare for Life fee increase to retired pay increases.

“What we’re asking for is those minimums and co-pays not increase at any percentage greater than the increase in retired pay,” said Mentell. “Thus far, we have been successful in holding down the increase in the minimums and co-pays that retired service members have to pay.”

The council is also working on an initiative to raise the weight limit on Army and Fleet Post-Office mail service for retired Soldiers overseas. Currently, retired Soldiers in Europe are restricted to16 ounces per package. The council is waiting for the approval of a one-year test program at APOs in Germany that would increase the weight limit to five pounds per package.

“Rather than shipping a parcel with only one shoe, it’d be nice to ship a parcel with a pair of shoes,” said Mentell, noting APO and FPOs allow up to 70 pounds for active-duty service members.

Retired Soldiers with other concerns about retirement services and programs can submit issues for resolution through their garrison-level retiree councils.

“The Army, unlike the other services, has a structure that reaches down into the retired Soldier level and expresses the continued concern for their service,” he said.

Garrison retiree councils meet semi-annually and take matters affecting retired Soldiers to installation commanders.

Mentell said many of the programs and services that nearly 7,000 retired Soldiers in Europe benefit from today are the result of leaders and retired Soldiers working toward what he called “common solutions.”

“Involvement and support from commanders at all levels is great. They are concerned about the issues of retired Soldiers and work to support the resolution of those issues,” said Mentell. “The Army in Europe leadership is listening, they understand and they have the concerns of retired Soldiers at heart.”

For more information about the Army in Europe Retiree Council visit www.per.hqusareur.army.mil/content/misc/AERC/index.html.