SAN ANTONIO – Recently celebrating its first anniversary, the Bexar County Military and Veterans Service Center has already helped thousands of service members and their families.
The county-funded center is a unique model meant to help veterans with services such as transitioning out of the military, benefits and burial, said executive director Karen Lopez Rolirad, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
Although the center didn't get fully operational until April, Rolirad estimated it helped more than 6,000 people.
"What we want to do is help the veteran become a self-sufficient, stable member of Bexar County. We want them to stay here," Rolirad said.
Even prior to the center’s opening, the county had already been helping to process veteran claims. The difference is it now helps them transition out of the military, including finding jobs.
Through the end of September, the center helped place 108 people and about 30 more since then, Rolirad said.
The center staff members stay with the veteran even after they are placed, Rolirad said.
“It may not be a good right-first fit, but we want to teach them the skills necessary to have them find that -- maybe that next position -- where they’re going to go,” she said.
It can be hard to keep up with all of the people who need help, Rolirad said, noting that they sometimes have to prioritize cases. Going forward, the center is sure to see even more cases.
“So there’s 300,000 military members and families within the Bexar County area,” Rolirad said. “The numbers will only grow.”