An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : News
NEWS | Aug. 27, 2014

Texas Transition Information Program helps turn preparations into smooth transitions to civilian life

By Gloria Kwizera JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

Texas military service members preparing to separate or retire will soon have a new program to smooth their transition to civilian life.

The new program will pick up where the traditional Transition Assistance Program (TAP) leaves off, declared Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio commander, Aug. 20 as he welcomed separating service members and their family members to the inaugural event for the Texas Transition Information Program at JBSA-Lackland.

"We believe we have done a good job with respect to transition assistance for service members exiting the military, but we have not done it as well as we need to -- for our nation and for the state of Texas," LaBrutta said.

The JBSA community partnered with the Military Veteran and Community Council to supplement the military's traditional transition assistance program, a five-day workshop, designed to help prepare separating and retiring members for life outside of the military.

"The MVCC is a consortium of government, state and local organizations and businesses geared to supporting Texas veterans," said Kim Myers, chief of military and family readiness forJBSA-Lackland. "Although this program is specifically targeting transitioning services members, the program is open to everyone in the JBSA family, military dependents as well as Department of Defense civilians."

The organization is trying to prepare all transitioning service members for their "new normal" as they exit the military. JBSA officials and the MVCC say they want to ensure that they know what's next.

The impetus for this collaboration was to ease the undeniable anxiety inherent in starting life outside the military. The new partnership wants to offer a "one-stop" resource to answer questions on issues such as finding healthcare, a new home or a job.

The TX-TIP will help find the answers to these questions and assist members learn how to network, connect with local support agencies and much more.

The key to success is planning early, officials say, but they add getting the right information from the right people is also vital. Unlike TAP, which is a partnership between the Department of Defense, Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs, with TX-TIP gets the whole San Antonio community involved.

"When you go through TAP classes, it is pretty much confined to inside the gate, including the information you get, but there is a wealth of information and benefits outside the gate in Texas, especially in San Antonio," said Serafina De Los Santos, 502nd Force Support Group deputy commander. "There are a lot of people here who pay attention to the military and want to help in any way they can. This was evident by the number of community members who made up the different discussion panels throughout the day."

The workshop is completely optional, Myers explained.

"We implemented this because we recognized that, while there is merit to a standardized curriculum for TAP-GPS, service members want to know what is available in their local community. We also know that networking is a key component to employment. By implementing both concepts into the TX-TIP, we are increasing the chances of success for our departing JBSA family members."

The full- day event featured four different discussion panels: education, health, housing and employment.

TX-TIP volunteers said many service members leave educational benefits on the table because they do not understand them. Representatives from the Texas Veteran's Commission were available during the day to discuss topics ranging from the difference between each program, from the GI-Bill to the Hazelwood program.

"I learned more about the Montgomery GI Bill than I knew before. What I learned, will save me a lot of money down the road," said Tech. Sgt. Olayemi Brooks, who attended the day-long session.

Veterans education coordinator Fernando Conejo said part of his role was to explain how to make sure departing service members can get the most out of their benefits.
"We are here to help you remove all the barriers that prevent you from reaching your educational goal," Conejo said.

This event was brief but comprehensive study of impacting service members and families and, by the end of the day some attendees were able to answer each other's questions without the subject matter experts.

"I absolutely recommend this workshop to others preparing for transition. Even after attending TAP, I still learned more especially from the education portion," said Senior Airman Corina Yates.

Officials noted that this is an ongoing partnership; JBSA will continually look at this workshop and other potential ways to enhance the transition program for the families staying in San Antonio. The next event will be held at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston in November and JBSA-Randolph in February.

In addition, MVCC partners are incorporating monthly Veterans Transition Information Program workshops on a monthly basis to augment the TX-TIP. These sessions will be open to all veterans and hosted off base during the months TX-TIP is not being held.

"You served your nation defended this country and now it's time for you to turn the page to the next chapter of your life," LaBrutta said to the crowd gathered at Arnold Hall during opening ceremonies.

This should be an exciting time for you and you should be looking forward to this next transition and this next opportunity. What we have done at JBSA is partnered with the resources in the community to make sure our folks' transition from military to civilian is as smooth as it can possibly be. This is our attempt. We are not there yet. We know it's all about continuous process improvement - and we will never stop because you deserve the best."

More information on the program can be obtained through the Soldier for Life Program or the Military and Family Readiness Centers across JBSA.