Echoes from the past Celebrating 60 years of direct communications with the Army's retired community

WASHINGTON — In March, Army Echoes celebrated 60 years of uninterrupted, direct communications with Retired Soldiers and their families. When the Army established the first Retired Activities Unit at Headquarters Department of the Army, it quickly realized the critical need to communicate with Retired Soldiers. The Retired Army Personnel Bulletin, now known as Army Echoes was first published in March 1956. The newsletter was renamed Army Echoes in 1979.

On the cover of the first issue of the Retired Army Personnel Bulletin, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor wrote to the Retired Soldiers of his day a message that is remarkably similar to those sent by recent Chiefs of Staff on the covers of Army Echoes. Gen. Taylor wrote:

It is a happy privilege for me to address the alumni of the Army. The Army has you always in mind, and I am sure you have not forgotten the Army in which you spent many years of purposeful and satisfying service.

In response to a long-felt need, we recently established a retired activities unit in the Office of The Adjutant General. This unit, which will act as your point of direct contact with the Army, will publish the RETIRED ARMY PERSONNEL BULLETIN, this being the first issue. The BULLETIN is designed to keep you posted on the Army and your retirement benefits and rights. Its primary purpose is to be of assistance to you.

The Army is changing to meet the requirements of modern warfare. Yet, in its fundamental principles of duty, honor, and service to the Nation, it is the same tried, tested, and reliable Army which you have always known. Your informed voice, in your community and in your day-to-day contacts with your fellow citizens, can help the Army maintain the kind of public support essential to the existence of a powerful, mobile, combat-ready Army.

I trust you are enjoying your well-earned retirement. I hope you will avail yourself of the services of the Retired Activities Unit and its BULLETIN. Finally, I hope you will continue to keep informed on the Army and to speak out for the kind of Army needed to keep America strong and free.

Maxwell D. Taylor,

General, United States Army,

Chief of Staff.

The March 1956 issue also reported that the “all retired personnel . . . and unremarried widows of such personnel are authorized the use of commissary and post exchange facilities.”

The April 1956 issue reported that the Army “has recently authorized a standard identification card (DD Form 720) MILITARY DEPENDENTS IDENTIFICATION CREDENTIAL, for use in identifying dependents of retired Army personnel.”

The May 1956 issue reported that “A recent Gallup poll shows that the civilian public bases its attitudes toward the military service more on reports from people who are or have been in the service than on any other source of information. It’s up to you to tell the public what the Army has always meant and will always mean to the welfare of our country.”

While the digital age transforms how we communicate with Retired Soldiers and their families, the Army remains committed to updating Retired Soldiers about their retirement benefits and urging them to remain Soldiers for Life.