Honor Their Service: The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA)

An organization that looks out for our enlisted service members

The United States was built on people fighting for freedom and the freedom of generations to come. We here at NewsCenter1 want to recognize those people and those who advocate for them here at home. In this week’s segment of “Honor Their Service,” we introduce you to The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA) was started by two enlisted servicemen from Colorado Springs back in 1963. They saw a need for having an enlisted association.

TREA went through the whole process and was sanctioned by Congress to have a national charter. Its goal is to help and serve both active duty and retired veterans as a whole.

There are about 45 active chapters across the U.S. but only one in South Dakota. John Martinez is the treasurer of TREA Chapter 29 in Rapid City with about 550 members. John is originally from East Los Angeles and spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. He started out as a communication specialist. Later, he served in the Vietnam era and then spent many years serving in the NATO Nations.

He says the climax to his retirement was when he was nominated and went on to the National Inspector General’s team for two years. He then retired and came back to South Dakota.

John says that over the past 30 years, TREA has done a lot to help people in need in Rapid City.

“We used to have Bingo when we were open seven days a week, and we would donate approximately on an average of about $3,000-$4,000 a month to people here in the Rapid City area who were in need.”

He also says that they try to help anybody they can.

“We work closely with other organizations here in town, like the VFW, the American Legion, Wounded Warrior Program, all the other associations. We in this chapter are also the only certified Honor Guard that performs ceremonies for any veteran that needs to be buried at the national cemetery or a private cemetery.”

When it comes to the takeaway that this association offers to its members, John says camaraderie is by far the biggest.

“You can relate; you can tell war stories as they say. That’s nice. It makes you go back in time and realize that you’re just one of millions who has done this in the past. And now you’re just trying to help those that are not as fortunate as you are.”

You don’t have to be a member to come by and check out TREA’s facility. It’s located at 1981 Centre St. in Rapid City and is open every day beginning at 1 p.m.

For more information about TREA and the local chapter, click here.

Categories: Honor Their Service, Local News, South Dakota News