‘Got Your 6 Summit’ highlights issues veterans face amid integration into civilian life

Veterans need help finding various resources available to them, officials say

SAN ANTONIO – The “Got Your 6 Summit,” an effort to tackle the issues veterans and their families face, took place on Tuesday for the first time in Military City, USA.

Public, private, and nonprofit leaders discussed health care, housing, employment, and food challenges and possible solutions.

At the summit, retired Maj. Adrienne Beard, who understands firsthand the challenges transitioning servicemembers and veterans are up against, says no amount of preparation for integration into civilian society is ever enough for the cruel realities that exist.

“I felt like I prepared myself before I got out of the (U.S.) Air Force. And then, when I got out of the Air Force, it was a totally different story. I thought it was going to be a smooth ride down a snowy hill, but instead, it ended up being a very rough, bumpy ATV ride,” said Beard.

As prepared as Beard thought she was for civilian life, she says she didn’t plan to go so long without a job and pay while she waited for benefits to kick in.

“I humbly tapped Into the San Antonio Food Bank because I had little twins that needed to be fed. So it hit me, and it could hit anybody,” said Beard.

The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County said over 1 in 5 veterans in Bexar County struggle to make ends meet. That’s about 22% of military veterans in San Antonio.

Leadership at the summit said the problem isn’t a lack of resources but making veterans aware of them.

“There’s an embarrassment of riches, some might say, in San Antonio, because there is so much support, but it is still not always as easy as it could be to connect with that support,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Julianne Stith, a former chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy, said one of the many resources, United Way, has measured at least 30,000 veterans in Bexar County are living on incomes that are not enough to meet their needs.

“And so those are the ones that we’re seeing a lot of, who kind of get caught needing help with rent and food, child care, things like that. So, yes, it is a problem here,” said Stith.

About the Authors

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

Recommended Videos