SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, joined local officials to mark the opening of the new Bexar County Military and Veterans Services Center during a Nov. 12 ceremony.
The center, located at 1422 E. Grayson Street, Suite 400, is situated near JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and will be a resource for servicemembers transitioning out of the military and veterans who are looking for career and educational opportunities.
Staffing the center are Bexar County military service officers, who will provide career and educational resources, services and counseling to transitioning service members and veterans and link them to housing, health and other vital services once they leave the military.
Before making the move to its new office on Grayson Street, Bexar County veteran’s services had been located in downtown San Antonio.
Joining Lenderman at the dedication of the new center were Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff, who hosted the event, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Cristina Aldrete, North San Antonio Chamber president and CEO. All of the dignitaries made remarks at the ceremony.
Wolff, a Navy veteran, said the military service officers at the center and those stationed at JBSA locations will provide services and counseling to transitioning servicemembers before they leave the military.
“One of the difficulties we have is we start too late,” Wolff said. “We offer these services once someone has already transitioned out of the military. What we want to do is make contact with them before they transition out. We’ll make first contact six months before an individual transitions out of the military and start building that career plan.”
Through the Bexar County military service officers program, there are three military service officers serving the needs of transitioning servicemembers and veterans, including one at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston working with the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP. The program provides counseling and job assistance to service members who are transitioning out of the military.
The county is providing $900,000 for the startup of the center. Once the Bexar County military services officer program is fully staffed, it will have seven military service officers serving the needs of transitioning service members and veterans.
Wolff said JBSA-Randolph will get their own military service officer within the next year, while it will be a 1 ½ years before a military service officer is stationed at JBSA-Lackland.
On average, 4,000 service members per year at JBSA are transitioning out of the military. To handle that volume of transitioning service members, Wolff said the military services officer program will need to be expanded in the future, in the range of 20 to 25 military service officers.
“This is a start-up,” Wolff said. “It’s going to take a little while to get the staff in here necessary to handle the volumes we have. We’re going to do it and do it right.”
A fully staffed center and military service officers program will cost the county between $1.2 million and $1.5 million to operate, Wolff said.
The commissioner said the center will help transitioning servicemembers and veterans make connections with area employers who want to hire individuals who have served their country.
“As an employer I’m desperate to find good candidates,” Wolff said. “Well, that’s what this center is going to do. We are going to take military trained individuals, we are going to relearn some language back in the civilian sector, we’re going to translate those military jobs into civilian jobs and we’re going to do that in partnership with our employers.”
Wolff said it took three years of work to establish the center and the military service officers program. The partnership between the county and JBSA on the military service officers program started after Wolff pitched the idea of the program to Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, then 502nd ABW and JBSA commander, in the summer of 2017.
Lenderman said the opening of the center reminded her of the time her father, an Air Force veteran, transitioned after 26 years of service. She said the transition impacted her and her family and that her father had many challenges and adjustments he had to go through while he was transitioning from a military career to a civilian job, which took him six months to find.
The Bexar County Military and Veterans Services Center, Lenderman said, will help ease the transitioning process for JBSA servicemembers and veterans by connecting them to critical education, technical training, employment and entrepreneurial services.
“The opening of this center will ultimately help our servicemembers and their families navigate their way to a new normal as a productive, successful and valued member of this community,” Lenderman said.
“As my own family experienced, transitioning from active duty to civilian life is not always easy, but I’m very confident that the center will provide those life-changing support and services for our veterans and entire Joint Base San Antonio community.”
The center is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To contact the center, call 210-335-6775.