JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
On Nov. 11, Veterans Day was observed in ceremonies and events around the nation, including at Joint Base San Antonio.
Veterans Day honors the men and women who have served in the U.S. military, and here at JBSA, many of those veterans continue to serve as civilian Department of Defense personnel.
To commemorate this special day, several provided their thoughts on what Veterans Day means to them and how they continue to serve their country through their work.
Army Veteran and Administrative Officer
Paez served in the Army for 24 years in various capacities as a combat medic, physical therapy technician, recruiter and, during his last three years of service, as a noncommissioned officer in charge of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He is currently an administrative officer and health system specialist in the Department of Pharmacy at BAMC.
“I feel awesome about my role,” said Paez of his current position at BAMC. “I can honestly say I would have a huge void in my existence if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing today as part of the team as a civil service employee.
“I think it’s a great day to commemorate those veterans who came before me,” he said. “I don’t think I even think about myself on Veterans Day, I think about all those who had it way harder or gave their life serving our country. Also, it makes me think of everybody who doesn’t serve in the military but that supports those efforts — family members, spouses, kids, parents of those that serve, and the things they go through when we are far away and in harm’s way — they’re the ones back home bearing the brunt and keeping things going.”
Marine Corps Veteran and Public Affairs Specialist
Ashley Snipes served in the Marines Corps for eight years, completing two enlistments from 2002 to 2010. Her first enlistment was as a Marine musician flute player stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. For her second enlistment, Snipes worked in public affairs at Headquarters, Recruiting Station Phoenix, Arizona. Snipes is now in the command information section of 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs.
“I’m proud I have been able to continue my service as a civilian in the DoD,” Snipes said. “It’s never an easy decision to transition away from active service; civil service has allowed me to continue to give back to an organization that helped me when I needed it most. It’s also allowed me to stay connected to the post 9/11 generation and have meaningful conversations about what their service means.
“Veterans Day is a bittersweet reminder about the friends we’ve lost along the way,” Snipes said. “It’s also a chance to connect and reflect with friends and family who served or are still serving. I encourage all Americans to stop and reflect on their understanding of service and sacrifice so when they thank a veteran, it’s sincere and not reflexive.”
Navy Veteran and Safety Officer
Joiner served in the Navy for 22 years, retiring as a senior chief petty officer. His roles in the Navy included being a vertical launch technician and a corpsman. He is now the safety officer at Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio, or NAMRU-SA.
“I love working here as the safety manager and the emergency manager for the command. I do lab safety inspections, making sure there are no safety issues or hazards to our staff, reviewing all the protocols, making sure we’re following all the safety guidelines with the chemicals, personal protective equipment, and so forth, that are required in the labs,” Jointer said. He added that his current job includes a little bit of both his backgrounds, working maintenance, guns, and the hazard portion of his Navy career, and then he added the medical side later on.
“Being a veteran, it’s nice to give back to those who are still serving and help them out because of what we do here,” he said. “Part of the NAMRU-SA mission is to save lives. So, it kind of fits into the background of what I used to do as a Navy corpsman, continuing with the mission forward.”
Air Force Veteran and Aircraft Maintainer
Tauscher served in the Air Force for six years, from 2011 to 2017, in aerospace maintenance. He was a B-1B crew chief. He is now with the 12th Flying Training Wing at JBSA-Randolph as an aircraft maintainer, serving as a T-6 crew chief.
“This job has provided me with the continuous joy that I still get to impact the Air Force in a positive way, with helping to ensure aircraft are safe and ready to fly in order to train the next generation of instructor pilots,” Tauscher said.
“Veterans Day serves as a reminder that what I did wasn’t just a job, but a lifestyle that I carry with me even in my current career field,” he said.
Air Force Veteran and Chief of Cyberspace System Support
Simmons was in the Air Force for 23 years and served in many roles, including information manager, air traffic controller, supporting ground-launched cruise missile missions, and performing communications and information management inspections. He retired from the Air Force in 2002 and is now the 688th Cyberspace Wing chief of cyberspace systems support.
As chief, Simmons believes what they do, providing essential IT support, directly ensures the wing can fulfill its mission to provide cyberspace support downrange to a worldwide customer base.
“Most people don’t understand how reach back has a direct influence on real-world operations, but I know it does and that is what makes the actions me and my team perform every day important to ensure the safety and security of American citizens,” Simmons said.
“I believe most Americans, especially those who did not serve in uniform, understand and appreciate the sacrifice of the thousands of men and women who served and are serving in the Armed Forces,” Simmons said. “I would hope on Veterans Day, everyone will take a second to realize and thank those who have been totally willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom and the safety of the country.”
Air Force Veteran and Aircraft Maintainer
Schaeler served for 24 years in the Air Force before retiring in 2011. He currently works in aircraft logistics at the 12th Flying Training Wing at JBSA-Randolph.
“I am fairly new here and worked in the private sector after I retired in 2011,” Schaeler said. “I was trying for quite a while to get back in the Air Force as a civilian because I missed it so much. The camaraderie, teamwork, organization, and sense of family. When I was hired on and came back into the gate of JBSA-Randolph as a member of the team again and not just a retiree, I was so happy and actually had to hold back a tear of joy when I pulled into the T-38 maintenance parking lot and saw the planes.”
“I am really glad the government gives us priority as veterans to be hired again, extra leave benefits as veterans for our deployment time, and a day off for Veterans Day, which I didn’t get at my old company,” Schaeler said. “This really helps show the veterans that our government appreciates and remembers all the veterans who served our country.”
Army Veteran and Air Forces Services Center Player and Program Development Specialist
Roberts was in the Army for seven years, serving as an infantryman, and then moving into field artillery, where he became familiar with and an instructor of the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS.
Roberts comes from a family of veterans. His father was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, his grandfather and his brother also served in the armed forces.
After 30 years in the public sector as a golf professional, Roberts joined the Air Forces Services Center at JBSA-Lackland as a player and program development specialist, creating and implementing programs that benefit customers, including active-duty, dependents and veterans, who play on golf courses located at 58 Air Force installations around the world. Roberts is one of three Air Forces Services Center team members who oversee the golf course operations and assist golf managers in making sure their facilities are successful.
Roberts said his job allows him and the AFSVC golf team to give back to veterans by developing programs that will help them to develop and enjoy the game of golf on courses around the world.
“Being a veteran, I am a passionate guy,” he said. “People don’t understand the blank check we write with our lives so people can be free. We’re one of the few countries in the world where people can speak their peace. Other countries don’t have that, and it’s because people like my dad, my grandfather, my brother before me, and those who served after me have said, ‘I’m signing a blank check with my life to keep all the freedoms we have that our country has to offer. We serve to guard our county and protect its way of life.”
“If I was ever called back, I would sign that blank check with my life and do it again,” he said.