Attendees wave flags as the families arrive. Photo by Scott Ball.
Attendees wave flags as the families of veterans arrive. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) announced Tuesday that it will become the nerve center for the local version of a national program known as AmericaServes. TXServes will launch in San Antonio in July as the first of its kind in Texas.

Now officially designated as “Military City, USA,” San Antonio can provide its 153,122 veterans with the support services they need most.

TXServes plugs the holes in the many services that exist for veterans, according to a statement AACOG released. The program will be administered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University through a $5 million Walmart Foundation gift.

In Bexar County, almost 12% of residents are veterans, making the San Antonio metro area the ninth-largest veteran community in the country. Most of these area veterans served in the Vietnam War and the pre-9/11 Gulf Wars.

Although many are familiar with the Veterans Affairs system, studies show they are not aware of other programs and services that could help them transition from military to civilian life and beyond.

“We’re thrilled,” AACOG Executive Director Diane Rath stated. “We’ve put great emphasis on boosting our military neighbors and TXServes will only further empower that partnership by allowing us to serve as a beacon for veterans who have given us so much through their tremendous sacrifice.”

The nonprofit agency, Military and Veteran Community Collaborative (MVCC), worked with IVMF to develop TXServes. MVCC President Freddie Valenzuela, a San Antonio native and retired general who served 33 years in the Army, began working four years ago to form a group that would support veteran-serving organizations and help veterans transition to civilian life. The result was MVCC.

AACOG will manage the local administration of TXServes while MVCC will assist with fundraising and building the network.

“The Alamo Area Council of Governments has provided the leadership, coaching, and relationships to bring community coordination to a new level,” stated Jim McDonough, IVMF managing director and retired Army colonel. “Veterans, active military, National Guardsmen, reservists and – most importantly – their families can all be connected to the rich tapestry of Alamo area human service providers in new, streamlined, and accountable ways.”

Valenzuela said TXServes will ensure gaining referrals becomes easier for veterans and that they are directed to the right veteran service organizations.

“There is no doubt our veterans will be taken care of in the aforementioned areas by being able to navigate and consolidate veteran needs to a platform set up to match the need to a solution,” Valenzuela said. “This will confirm that we are truly headed to verifying our mantra of being Military [City], USA.”

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.