The Fort Leonard Wood Retiree Council hosted a virtual town hall for retirees Saturday, livestreamed from Lincoln Hall Auditorium to the U.S. Army Fort Leonard Wood Retiree Days Facebook group.

The focus of the event was to provide information to the retiree community while also giving retirees the opportunity to ask questions — a panel of installation leaders and subject matter experts stood by to respond.

Guest speaker for the event — Col. Aaron Pitney, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander — spoke on topics of interest to retirees here, including COVID-19 mitigation efforts, influenza immunizations and the on-going construction of the new hospital.

COVID-19 infections are rising across the country, Pitney said, and they’ve started to infiltrate less-populated areas.

“Currently, we have not had a significant number of admissions or severely affected individuals who have been admitted to GLWACH,” he said. “However, the number of admissions and bed availability across the region and state itself remains fairly tight. In other words, we can manage the number of cases that we are seeing right now, but we have to continue to watch very closely to make sure that we have adequate staff and resources to care for cases here at GLWACH.”

Pitney said “the advice most of you have heard remains in effect.”

“Wearing a mask, socially distancing and washing your hands are paramount to prevention of the spread of the disease,” he said.

Pitney praised the benefits of virtual appointments during the pandemic.

“In many instances, we can provide the same care,” he said. “Whether that be routine screenings, medication refills, follow ups … anything we can do to assist you to remain social distant while supporting your health care needs, I believe is a win-win for you as far as prevention.”

The annual influenza vaccination campaign for active-duty family members ages 6 months and older, retirees and retiree family members begins this week, Pitney said. Times are 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and Monday, and 8 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 8.

“You can also receive your flu shot anytime during a routine health visit at the hospital,” he said.

Pitney also reminded the retiree population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention especially recommends individuals 65 years and older receive the pneumococcal vaccine.

“We have that available at the hospital,” he said.

Pitney said there has been “tremendous progress” in the construction of the new hospital. It is scheduled for completion in 2024 and will help Fort Leonard Wood serve 3,500 retirees in the community.

Questions from retirees included when in-person appointments to prepare wills are available. A representative from the Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Staff Judge Advocate said appointments are available to execute and notarize wills starting Monday. Call 573.596.0629 for more information or to make an appointment.

Many retirees asked about the upcoming Holiday Block Leave and what they should expect when visiting the installation during that time.

Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, said many of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Army and Air Force Exchange Service programs will remain open during HBL, but some facilities may have reduced hours.

The installation’s Facebook page — www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodmissouri — is a good source of the most up-to-date information regarding changes to open hours.

Retired Lt. Col. Leslie Dillard, Retiree Council co-chair, thanked everyone for participating and said she hopes to see retirees from the community attend the 2021 Retiree Appreciation Days, scheduled for Sept. 10 through 11.