JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
It is no secret that Joint Base Langley-Eustis has a large retiree community. Though they have left the service, many veterans choose to give back to the armed service community by volunteering their time at various on-base agencies.
Some of these veterans sat down to share why they continue to serve today.
1. Robert Rehak
Robert Rehak is a retired captain that volunteers at the 633rd Medical Group Satellite Pharmacy. Rehak, a native of Cicero, Illinois, served for 27 years in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Air Force. He enlisted in June of 1940 and served as an airborne radio operator and plane lead before commissioning and becoming a T-33 Shooting Star pilot.
Now as a pharmacy volunteer, Rehak helps provide faster service to JBLE’s customers as they pick up prescriptions. He made the decision to serve as a volunteer to give something back. He said “I felt I ought to do something because I got sort of tired playing golf five days a week.”
When asked to describe his impression of military service, Rehak said “Fantastic. Greatest thing I could imagine. I had a lot of travel, went to a lot of places. I really never had an assignment that I didn't like. Yep--couldn't beat that.”
Rehak enjoyed his time in the service so much so that he said he would go back in if the military would have him.
“I think I could pass the exam,” he said. “Yes, of course. I don't know about flying--my eyes are not as good.”
2. Paul Rizzo
Paul Rizzo is a retired lieutenant colonel that volunteers at the 633rd MDG Satellite Pharmacy. Rizzo, a native of New York, served for 21 years in the U.S. Army. He commissioned in 1952 and served as an infantry officer, honor guard member, Counterintelligence Corps agent, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps teacher and historian.
“I actually, honest to God, went to college so I could go into the ROTC then, into the Army,” said Rizzo. “My dad was in the Army Air Corp during World War II and I really thought, well, it was my duty to serve my country--that was my goal.”
Like Rehak, Rizzo also assists with helping pharmacy customers obtain their prescriptions. However, before joining the pharmacy staff, Rizzo worked at the information desk at the main hospital, where he helped visitors navigate the hallways or answered any questions people may have.
“I felt that it would be good to do something of a worthwhile nature,” he said. “I enjoy it. It also gives my wife and I a little bit of time apart from each other. It gives me some time with other people. Working with others is enjoyable and you feel like you're doing good.”
3. Rodney Venables
Rodney Venables is a retired major that volunteers at JBLE. Venables, a native of York, Pennsylvania, served for 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. He enlisted in 1958 and was tasked with the job of manning the television studios at North American Aerospace Defense Command Headquarters, before commissioning and becoming an aircraft maintenance officer.
Venables decided to volunteer after his wife urged him to get out of the house and find something to do.
“I'm 80 now, so I kind of did things around the house, you know then, to be honest, the wife kicked me out of the house,” said Venables. “She said, ‘you're underfoot all the time, you need to get out so I can have some time alone.’ I said ‘okay.’”
In his hunt to find a past time, Venables began working at the 633rd Mission Support Group Retirement Activities Office and the 633rd MDG Satellite Pharmacy.
At the Retirement Activities Office Venables helps retirees and their families with making appointments, and provides information to guide customers or solve problems, such as pay inaccuracies. However, when he is at the pharmacy he assists members with filling out a yearly form to get their insurance information squared away.
“I work two days a week over (at the Satellite Pharmacy) and two days a week here at the Retirement Activities Office,” said Venables. “So, I've got it four days a week. I have a reason to get up in the morning, and shave and shower and get going.”
Venables said he’s enjoyed his Air Force career and encourages Airmen to do the same while seizing every opportunity provided to them.
“Take advantage over the many, many opportunities that there are in the Air Force to get ahead,” he said. “Take advantage of them, get all the education you can and move up as high as you dare to go or are capable of going. It's a great life.”