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NEWS | May 10, 2018

From homeless to hopeful: JBSA-Lackland civil servant retires

By Mary Nell Sanchez 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Susan Brasel has worked various jobs that include stints in theater, aerospace, finance, technology, and children’s advocacy programs. It’s this career path that the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland civilian servant is especially proud of as she celebrates over 18 years with the military helping children be the best they can before she retired April 30.


After being laid off in 1998 from a job, Brasel found herself and her children navigating rough waters.


“I eventually lost my home and only had my car,” said Brasel. “My older kids moved and I was left with my 14-year old daughter.”  


Brasel and her daughter stayed with friends and did not reveal the fact that they were homeless. That lasted about a year while she began applying for government positions. She worked other jobs as she aimed her focus on working for the military.


“It took me about 18 months to get picked up,” said Brasel.


She applied several times and was hired in March 2000 at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany where she worked about three years in child care. After accepting a transfer, she came to JBSA-Lackland in 2003 as a youth programs trainer, eventually becoming the youth programs director at the Lackland Youth Center for the 502nd Force Support Squadron.


Brasel credits her father with equipping her with determination to never give up; even when she was homeless.


“I’m going to credit my background,” she said.


Watching her parent’s work ethic set her up for her thirst for knowledge and success.


“My career in the Air Force even though I started at age 50 I feel was on a fast track,” said Brasel. “In 4 1/2 years I went from not knowing anything to being at headquarters, but I was a quick study.”


Armed with passion for teaching children, Brasel dived in to working with them on acquiring the tools they needed to succeed in life. School age children were her first love.


“School age kids need more hands on, engaging activity; they need cool stuff to get their attention,” Brasel said. [Activities such as crafting, theater, cooking, computer coding, photography and athletics are common staples at the youth center

Brasel’s colleagues agree she attacks her duties with vigor.


“She has a cool tendency to sell you on an idea or direction that she observed the children doing and for no odd reason she had a bag of tricks back at home; the materials, the supplies and the resources,” said Thomas Lynds, information and technology staffer at the Lackland Youth Center. “With the children, they all know who she is. If they can sell her on the idea, she can make it happen,” he added.


Brasel’s creative energy spread throughout the building.


“It was really great to have someone who believed in me,” said Franco Fernandez, an assistant with the child and youth program.


Fernandez was a student at the youth center before joining the team and has been teaching children cooking, computer coding and positive people skills since 2011.


The now retired civil servant said she loves the children she worked with during this career chapter.


Her career path and her lane in life have brought her to this current chapter. Brasel said now that she is retired she’s still going to be busy.


Brasel has been training and showing dogs since she was 18 so she wants to continue that and start a non-profit organization to train dogs for wounded warriors, which will keep her involved with her military family. She will also do some consulting work for the San Antonio Boys and Girls clubs, as well as consider other options that come her way.


“I’m not worried…God has taken great care of me to this point,” she said.