By: Preston Mangus
On September 13th, a new chapter and door opened at VyStar Credit Union’s Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) branch. Bryan Burt, a retired Navy Flight Officer and USO PathfinderSM Site Manager, held a ribbon cutting ceremony along with several USO, VyStar and NAS Jax Navy officials.
A first for the state of Florida, VyStar and the USO Pathfinder program will be sharing space at the NAS Jax branch location to serve not only VyStar members, but also active duty sailors (as well as their family members) who are transitioning out of the military and into civilian life. Due to space limitations, the Pathfinder program needed to expand their operations, and VyStar was able to provide a location for this important activity.
The USO, or United Services Organization, has been aiding service members for over 77 years. The Pathfinder project evolved from a program called RallyPoint/6, which started on the West Coast. Since its inception, the Pathfinder program has grown from one to 17 locations. Bryan says the Pathfinders’ goal is “to provide one-on-one solutions to individual problems, and provide a custom action plan specifically for that member.” They offer a holistic approach to providing transitioning military members with support in the following focus areas:
Service members have a 24-month window—12 months before separation, and 12 after—to access help. Military spouses can seek assistance beyond those terms if needed.
Bryan expects to assist over 300 families per year, and is assisted in his efforts by two very qualified employees known as scouts. Kristen Montejo and Ashlea Wesley are here to provide on- and off-site services to qualified families. They are responsible for the entire region, so the ability to travel is a must.
Kristen, when not riding her Harley, feels a special calling to provide her expertise and assistance to those in need. A retired Chief Petty Officer married to a Navy veteran, she has unique insight into the job from both service member and spouse perspectives. A background in Information Technology allows her to provide the most up-to-date information available in an app format that clients can easily access.
Though not a veteran, Ashlea—a “military brat” raised in a mixed Army/Coast Guard family—has much experience in the field as well. As a military spouse, she also has firsthand knowledge of the challenges that can come after military separation. With over 13 years’ experience in the Jacksonville social services industry, Ashlea has excellent contacts for local vetted services that might be beneficial for her clients.
If transitioning military need financial services, VyStar representatives at the NAS Jax branch will stand ready to assist as well. Hopefully this will be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between two member-service-oriented entities. Welcome to the neighborhood, Pathfinder!
If you need either USO Pathfinder or VyStar member services, you can find us at Building 39, at the intersection of Langley and Saratoga, at NAS Jax. Shared office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For additional information about military transition services, please visit the USO Pathfinder website or contact any of the following:
The information provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.