USO Pathfinder service had their grand opening to great fanfare in the VyStar Credit Union building aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Sept. 13. Pathfinder is a service that helps Sailors and their families transition from the Navy to the private sector.

“Having this Pathfinder service will greatly help our Sailors,” said NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Connor.

“We are very thankful to the USO and VyStar Credit Union for making this day happen.”

More than 100 people were on hand for the ribbon cutting to officially open the Pathfinder site, but it has been open for about two weeks and is already helping 35 Sailors as they transition out of the Navy.

“We are able to really connect with service members who are transitioning out of the military,” said Bryan Burt, site manager for USO Pathfinder Jacksonville.

“We are with them one year prior to one year after their end of service and help them in their transition. We are taking a holistic approach in employment, education, VA benefits, financial readiness, volunteerism, wellness and health issues.”

Pathfinder Jacksonville has two on-site case managers to offer one-on-one coaching to Sailors and will have a satellite office at Naval Station (NS) Mayport. The goal is to also have a third full-time case manager at NS Mayport. 

“We try to help them get down to what their needs are, their issues and things that are going on in their life, and develop an action plan geared for them,” Burt said.

“It an individualized, one on one approach. We are helping the military spouses as well, not only as they transition out of the military, but from duty station to duty station.”

There are 17 other Pathfinder sites around the United States and it is going to grow by about two or three locations per year.

Pathfinder Jacksonville is also made possible by corporate donations. Boeing is one of the major investors with a $5 million, multi-year investment nationally.

“We are supporting putting in Pathfinder sites across the country,” said Ingrid Piedrahita Morales, community investor for Boeing.

“We recognize that our veterans are important to our community, to our families and to our workforce. We recognize that veterans that come out of the military have special skills. We are hoping when they leave the military, they have gainful and meaningful employment so they can support their families in our communities.”