The most recent legislature had authorized the governor to appoint a commission to study the status of all governmental employees so our group met to discuss and organize a committee to visit the commission concerning needs of retirees. After this experience, the group of about 10 realized that state retirees needed to have their own organization. A board of directors and officers were elected and instructed to proceed with development of plans the Association. In the early days of NCRGEA, many leaders came from Wake County and the surrounding area but as the organization grew, leaders joined in from across the state. During the early seventies, a great deal of attention was devoted to providing increased benefits to those who had retired in the earlier years at a lower rate of pay. These efforts were successful and benefit increases were given at a prorated rate for some years. Early efforts of Association included issues such as the Homestead Exemption issue, credit for military service, repayment of withdrawn contributions, credit for work outside of North Carolina and the issue of disability retirement. A big milestone for the Association's leaders and members was reached in 1978 when the legislature approved the payment of health insurance for state retirees. Also, because of gains in the retirement systems, NCRGEA worked for those extra funds to be given back to retirees in the form of cost-of-living increases. Most recently, the accidental death insurance was increased to $7, 000 and then to $10, 000. A group dental plan with MetLife was offered beginning in January of 2002 and the HearPo hearing aid discount program was introduced in 2005. And just in 2009, NCRGEA created Associate Member category to allow spouses of current members the ability to join our group and introduced the Superior Vision Discount Card and optional group vision insurance. Forty years later with membership of over 54, 000, who would have thought that the vision of NCRGEA's early pioneers would have resulted in the strength Association has today? NCRGEA is the largest lobbying Association in the nation for retired state and local government employees. The objectives and mission of this Association continues to be to advance, promote and defend by any lawful means the rights, interests and welfare of retired employees of State of North Carolina.