LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS —
On Nov. 18, BusinessWeek.com reported a study that recognized Lackland AFB for being the eighth best place in the country to raise children.
The study rated cities from all over the country in the following categories: test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools and risk of crime.
"One of the reasons this is a great place to raise children is because our security forces make this a very safe environment," said Brig. Gen. Darrell Jones, 37th Training Wing commander. "Honestly, this recognition could have easily gone to any Air Force base because we're dedicated to developing our Airmen and taking care of their families ... it is one of our Air Force priorities. We know families are a big part of the re-enlist decision and we want people to stay with the Air Force. Raising your family on Lackland, on any Air Force base, really is a unique gift and something your children will appreciate when they grow up."
According to the study done by BusinessWeek and the New York City real estate researcher, OnBoard, out of 25,000 cities, Lackland AFB ranked 28th in school test scores, ninth in cost of living, eighth in recreational and cultural activities, 38th in schools and 48th in crime.
"Both of my boys grew up on Air Force bases; one spent time here on Lackland. He absolutely loved it," General Jones said. "He enjoyed the fact that he could run around the base and we didn't worry about where he was as long as he was home for dinner."
Lackland AFB's schools would have been ranked higher, but the study takes into account not just the quality of schools in the area, but also the quantity of schools.
"General Jones sent out an aggressive e-mail, involving a goal of making Lackland AFB the best place to live and work," said Col. Bob LaBrutta, 37th Mission Support Group commander. "And this recognition substantiates that we are well on our way to meeting that vision. Everything from the school district that is recognized nationally, to our child services centers being some of the best in the AETC and the Air Force."
The study illustrates that communities close to major cities are beneficial to the raising of children. One of Lackland AFB's greatest resources is the city that surrounds the base.
"We are blessed to be a part of a great community like San Antonio. The city has always embraced our base. There are so many things to do in the local area, from mission trails to the historic downtown San Antonio, and of course the nationally acclaimed River Walk," said the general.
While San Antonio did not make the list, its low cost of living and numerous cultural events give the families of Lackland AFB many other options minutes away from their homes.
"The Chamber is always excited that a local school district and community is recognized for their achievements," said Vice President of Communications for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Becky Bridges. "Clearly Lackland and all of our bases add to the quality of life in San Antonio. Our low cost of living throughout the region as well as access to great recreation make all of San Antonio a wonderful place to live and raise children."
Still, while Lackland AFB provides an abundant amount of resources, the military lifestyle poses its challenges.
"All parents face challenges raising children," said General Jones. "In the military, parents have the added burden of deploying. But we have so many great facilities and programs, so many support groups, so many people who care and are here to help. Every child is raised by the community, not just the parents."
With numerous programs provided by the Airman and Family Readiness Flight, as well as the schools and the Youth Center, it's hard to argue that there are more than enough resources available to keep children happy and safe.
"The children and our Airmen make us a community," said General Jones. "Without them we are just an industrial site where people come to work."