By OSD Staff Writer Ann Green

Chapter Lead Maxine Ababa has big plans for OSD San Antonio.  Her drive to serve others stems from her service in the United States Air Force from 2003-2009, where she achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and a family legacy of service to our country.  “OSD and serving this community has become a passion of mine,” says Ababa. The Texas native worked as a 1C3X1, Command and Control Airman, where she had the opportunity to mission plan multiple natural disaster relief efforts, flight follow a variety of aircraft, and manage the base’s command and control systems. “I’ve had the opportunity to do amazing things,” she says.  “I can also see both sides of a situation and understand where and when there’s support that’s needed.”

Ababa, a San Antonio resident, currently works as a program support assistant for the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Military & Family Readiness Center, which provides a full range of programs and services to support mission readiness. The Center links service members and their families with the right resources to meet their needs on base and within the local community. They provide training, workshops, and one-on-one consultations to support individuals, families, and leadership to strengthen communities, encourage self-sufficiency, enhance mission readiness and resilience, and ease adaptation into military life. Their services are available to active duty; reservists; National Guard retirees, surviving spouses; and Department of Defense civilians, families, and contracted employees. Says Ababa, “Between work and OSD, I live and breathe supporting the military community.”

She became involved with OSD when CEO and Executive Director Glenn Banton reached out to her last summer to discuss OSD in San Antonio.  She also connected with Scott Morrison, Chief Community Officer. “They both thought it would be a great fit,” she recalls. “Being a part of OSD gives me the opportunity to support as well as provides the resources to serve our military community.”

Building the OSD San Antonio chapter is a process that is moving forward in stages. “We’ve done some smaller events, including helping with San Antonio’s Hero’s Sports Day, partnering with the San Antonio Missions baseball team,” explains Ababa.  The San Antonio Missions are a Minor League team of the Pacific Coast League and the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.  “We got tickets for military and first responders to enjoy the game while celebrating all they do for the community. We also recognized Air Force Staff Sergeant Tiara Peyton, a U.S Air Force non-commissioned officer, for all she’s done for the military community as well as all the support and dedication she has provided for her family,” says Ababa.  “We gave her family a Supply Drop which consisted of a variety of video games, controllers, and a gaming system. Tiara helps military members during their moves. Her job helps ensure members’ household items get to where they need to be. Her family went through a unique situation, but she stepped up in an extraordinary way providing much-needed support and love.”   

As part of their community outreach, OSD San Antonio made a trip to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery to lay wreaths.  They also participated in a GI Forum Stand Down Day to help homeless veterans with food and hygiene supplies.  The American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program serves veterans who struggle with challenges to living a full and productive life.

Long range plans for OSD San Antonio are in the process of being finalized.  2019 goals include bringing support into the military community through networking, professional development, and service projects.  This will include participating in San Antonio’s Month of the Military Child, which recognizes the sacrifices made by children with parents in the military. There are currently 1.7 million military children of active duty members worldwide who move an average of 10 times.  Some have moved as many as 36 times. It is estimated that two million military children have experienced a parental deployment since 9/11/01.

Ababa recently launched the OSD Heroic Forces Professional Development classes in partnership with another Air Force veteran, Nick Charles. “Nick is helping facilitate VetForce classes for the military community alongside OSD,” explains Ababa.  “These classes will allow members who complete the training the chance to take the SalesForce certification exam, which will potentially open up a variety of employment opportunities.”

She also plans to work closely with community partners, bring families together, and instill a commitment to community service.  One example is her work with Goodwill, which helps veterans as they re-integrate into the civilian labor market, helping them with affordable housing (also for elderly veterans), employment and training resources in addition to helping homeless veterans find employment.  She is also working with Hiring Our Heroes to help transitioning service members and military spouses to gain meaningful employment.

“What we’re doing right now is building awareness of OSD,” says Ababa.  “We’re involved in a lot of networking events, meeting with transitioning military, spouses, and vets while checking out avenues to offer support.  Several of our team members work through different installations in San Antonio. We’re using social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Wherever we see an opportunity to share or support, we do.”

“We’re here to serve our community in San Antonio,” says Ababa.  “We want to build a network that will sustain and support service members, veterans and their families through the difficulties of military life.   We are a family and I’ve got your six.”