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Bexar County, JBSA form partnership to help transitioning service members

By David DeKunder | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Oct. 23, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Active duty members at Joint Base San Antonio transitioning out of the military are going to have access to additional resources and counseling through a new program being launched by Bexar County.

The Bexar County military service officers program will provide services and counseling to transitioning service members and veterans who are looking for job and educational opportunities in the civilian sector and need access to housing, health and other vital services once they leave the military.

Bexar County is providing $250,000 for the first year of the program.

Col. David Raugh, 502nd Force Support Group commander at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, said the program will start in January with two military service officers assigned to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

The military service officers will work with active-duty members six months before they transition out of the military and throughout the time they enter civilian life and become veterans. They will keep in touch with the veterans on a monthly basis.

The military service officers at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston will be housed in the Joint Personnel Processing Center, building 2263, with the Transition Assistance Program.

Plans are to expand the military service officers program by adding officers at JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph next spring.

Raugh said the creation of the military service officers program shows that the local community values its veterans.

“We talk about the motto of how San Antonio is ‘Military City USA,’” he said. “This is clearly indicated by this program.”

Raugh said the addition of the Bexar County military service officers is needed to serve a significant number of active-duty members at JBSA who are transitioning out of the military and will stay in the Bexar County area.

Of the 4,000 service members per year at JBSA who are transitioning, more than half – between 2,200 to 2,500  – decide to work or remain in the Bexar County area, said Raugh.

The partnership between Bexar County and JBSA for the military service officers program started after Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff pitched the idea to Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, during a meeting this summer.

Wolff, a Navy veteran, said he can relate to the challenges transitioning service members face when they enter civilian life.

“This bold new plan gets to the heart of the issue,” Wolff said. “As a veteran myself, I remember all too well the difficulties of transitioning to civilian life, applying for a job, finding an apartment and such. This (program) will help to address those issues before they separate from the military so they have those tools in place when they step foot outside those gates.”

Raugh said one advantage military service officers bring for transitioning service members is that they have connections to local businesses and companies who value and want to hire veterans. In addition, he said military service officers can also educate other businesses and companies on the attributes a transitioning service member brings to the workplace, including leadership, organizational and problem-solving skills.

Once the Bexar County military service officer program starts in January, Raugh said it could become an example of how a partnership providing resources for transitioning service members can work.

“I am confident this is going to become the premiere transition assistance partnership in the continental U.S.,” he said.

Raugh added it is up to active-duty service members who are transitioning to take the initiative to utilize the resources the service officers program will bring.

“A very important part of this is the transitioning service members,” Raugh said. “They have to invest in themselves and fully embrace the program. They have to take advantage of the opportunities (the program) offers.”