Services again available to help retired China Lakers

China Lake Retired Activities Office– The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the China Lake Retired Activities Office from carrying out some of its functions for the past two years, but the RAO is beginning to establish a new normal. This article is intended to help retired civilian and military employees of China Lake understand what RAO is and what services it provides.

The main service of the RAO is to assist retirees from China Lake when they and their family members experience life events such as marriage, divorce and death, and need to communicate with governmental agencies such as Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS). Retirees are responsible for ensuring that these agencies are notified of any changes that would impact their survivors and/or beneficiaries.

To help minimize surprises to a family when the retiree passes, RAO helps survivors file their claims to OPM/DFAS by ensuring that the appropriate forms are used and completed correctly prior to their being mailed. For those who are not computer literate, RAO can provide some computer assistance.

Unfortunately, the social part of the RAO will not resume until the COVID-19 policies, regulations and mandates are more settled and/or gone. That means that Retiree Appreciation Day is now an unknown.

RAO also keeps the China Lake Retiree/Alumnus database, which retirees often find helpful as a telephone directory for keeping in contact with former co-workers and friends. The database is also useful as a mailing list to notify retirees of special events held at China Lake.

The last directory was published in November 2018, so RAO is beginning a database updating process to result in a new directory. However, organizational changes at China Lake have made it difficult to obtain the names of all base retirees, and RAO volunteers have been able to obtain information on only about 50 percent of these retirees. But you can help.

“We would like to invite all China Lake retirees to register in the database,” said RAO Director Eva Bien. “ The data we need are first and last name, postal address, e-mail address, number of years of service, year retired, and name of spouse (optional). If you are already in the database, please provide RAO with any changes to your postal and e-mail address, telephone number and change or loss of spouse.”

To make these changes and/or to register, call (760) 939-0978, send an e-mail to, or send postal mail to RAO, NAWS, #1 Administration Bldg., Mail Stop 1323, China Lake, Ca. 93555. Offices hours are 9-11 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 9 -11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The office is closed on Flex Fridays and holidays.

Story First Published: 2021-10-15