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JBSA-Fort Sam Houston consolidates transition assistance services

By Lori A. Bultman | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | June 15, 2020

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

When the Army closed the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, located on the Brooke Army Medical Center campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Sept. 30, 2019, the vacant space was perfect for merging all the installation’s Transition Assistance Program services in one, convenient location. 

“The goal at Building 3639 is to optimize facility utilization with a joint center approach,” said Col. Sam Fiol, 502nd Forces Support Group commander. “This effort will provide enriched and synchronized services to the most important element of our process: transitioning service members, civilians, and their families.”

The new center will merge Army ideas with other services’ transition goals to form a joint approach. 

“The mission of the Army’s Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program, or SFL-TAP, is to deliver a world-class transition program for America's Army that empowers members to make informed career decisions that enhance lives, communities and our nation,” Fiol said. “As a joint base, we do the same, but we encompass members of all our military branches.

“It is a great way to leverage shared transition resources and expose transitioning service members to various local and state employment agencies, and veteran and military service organizations. There is also a wide range of career skills programs where they can gain experience or earn credentials that can lead to significant and meaningful post-service employment,” Fiol said. “These collaborative opportunities can contribute to the Department of Defense's future mission capabilities and can also support the economic vitality in our region.

Fiol said the new center will focus on the Transition Phase of the Soldier Life Cycle to “reintegrate strong” those that have “started strong” and have “served strong.” 

“One of the most important components of the Transition Soldier Life Cycle model is the Army Career Skills Program,” Fiol said. “The CSP encourages service members to capitalize on training and development opportunities throughout their military careers so that they grow and develop, fully capable of serving our nation—both in uniform and as civilians beyond their military service.”

“As a nation, we owe a smooth transition from active duty back to the civilian sector to those who answered the call to duty,” said Derrick Hutchison, Army Support Activity special projects manager. “But there is also a cost-saving element and improved military recruitment associated with an effective transition program.”

“In the first quarter of fiscal year 17, the four services paid $72.8 million in unemployment compensations to states for transitioning service members,” said Rodney Gaither, interim Transition Service manager at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. “By continuing to focus on ways to improve transition, the services have steadily reduced unemployment compensation payments each year.

“In the second quarter of fiscal year 2019, payments were $37.1 million, a 51 percent reduction,” he said.

Additionally, Candace Hillard, former JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Transition Service manager, said service members who have a smooth transition from active-duty service are more likely to continue to serve our country in the Reserve or National Guard, and retirees who enjoyed a positive transition are also more likely to volunteer in and around military facilities.

Jon Vance, the incoming JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Transition Service manager, echoed that sentiment.

“The positive effects of a stellar transition program are also likely to create ambassadors for military service, benefiting military recruitment by attracting highly qualified candidates into the nation’s all-volunteer service,” he said. “Not only are we enhancing fiscal benefit for our services, but we are also increasing the transition success of our military community.”