Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar discussed the Texas economy with members of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Photo from Creative Commons by Texas Comptroller.

Texas’ 15 active military installations combined have a total $136 billion impact on the Texas economy, according to a recently completed study by the Texas Comptroller’s office.

Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) is the U.S. Department of Defense‘s largest joint base, contributing $48.7 billion to the Texas economy, said Comptroller Glenn Hegar during a Wednesday morning announcement of the study results at Fort Sam Houston.

JBSA is the lead agency for the missions at Fort Sam Houston, Camp Bullis, and Randolph and Lackland Air Force bases. JBSA supports about 283,000 Texans in various capacities, contributing $17 billion in disposable personal income.

Hegar visited Fort Sam Houston, the headquarters for U.S. Army South, during his “Good for Texas Tour: Military Edition.” From mid-June to mid-July, Hegar is visiting six areas around Texas with major military installations to highlight the impact they have on surrounding communities. Hegar was due to visit Lackland Air Force base Wednesday afternoon.

Annually, Texas’ military bases contribute $81.3 billion to gross domestic product, Hegar said, and Texas’ military installations combined contribute about 805,000 jobs statewide. These jobs include active personnel, civilian employees and others indirectly related to those military base operations, leading to a contribution of nearly $48 billion in disposable personal income.

“That’s bigger than six other states in personal income size,” Hegar said.

San Antonio has long claimed the moniker of Military City, USA due to the military’s multi-decade presence of several training and logistics facilities throughout the city. That local military presence pumps more money into the city and state economies year after year, according to the Comptroller’s office.

Fort Sam Houston grounds. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
Fort Sam Houston grounds. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

Hegar earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University on the city’s Westside. He said he was proud of how large San Antonio has grown since then, and how the military has affected that growth.

“It ends up being here in the San Antonio area and Bexar County – amazingly – one in eight people are directly tied to the joint bases,” Hegar said. “That’s phenomenal.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor and state Rep. John Lujan (R-118) joined Hegar on Wednesday as he announced the results of the economic impact study. San Antonio is proud to continue its strong support for the armed forces given how the city has had a military presence of some kind for much of its growth and evolution, Taylor said. Many generations of local families have grown up with a direct or indirect attachment to the military, including former installations such as Brooks and Kelly Air Force bases.

“Our bases have had a great impact on our local economy and on our social fabric,” Taylor told the Rivard Report. “Also, a lot of people who have gone through their (military) careers choose to retire here in San Antonio because they love this community so much.”

While military installations continue to positively impact local economies across Texas, Hegar said the focus should be on the fruits of labor: the quality of the country’s armed services and their level of preparedness.

“What our military men and women provide every single day by risking their lives is important,” he said. “Not only is it economic impact, but it’s also really the strategic impact that they provide to our nation.”

Lujan’s state legislative district includes Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Lujan, who has visited with a number of base leaders, said it is very important for local governments and the state to support the mission at installations such as Randolph. Randolph opened in 1931 and houses the 902d Mission Support Group; the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), one of the U.S. Air Force’s 10 major commands; and AETC’s 19th Air Force.

“(That support) is not only vital to the San Antonio and Universal City, but also to our nation,” said Lujan, who sits on the Texas House Committee for Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The military presence in San Antonio is so entrenched and significant, Lujan said, that its economic impact “cannot be understated.

“It is part of why San Antonio continues to grow so quickly,” he said. “Plus, as a community, San Antonio is known to give back. We have programs and all kinds of things in place for veterans and our military.”

As an example of the support San Antonio provides the military, Lujan cited Patriots’ Casa at Texas A&M-San Antonio, an on-campus program that helps university community members engage local military personnel, and helps veterans further their education.

Taylor reiterated the city’s commitment to support the military, and mentioned that the city recently met a yearlong goal to effectively end local veteran homelessness.

(Read more: San Antonio ‘Effectively Ends’ Veteran Homelessness)

“So definitely, San Antonio relishes being ‘Military City, USA,’ but I think the numbers that the comptroller gave today emphasize a tremendous impact and presence of the bases,” she said.

Lujan agreed, and hopes that support never waivers.

“To me it’s clear that by investing in our military and our veterans, our economy, families and way of life and nation are much stronger,” he said.

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Top image: Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar discussed the Texas economy with members of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. File photo from courtesy of Texas Comptroller.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.