April 18th, 2014


Something the TSA is doing right

What I Do Matters: The TSA Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center

The Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center or MSIJSOC, as it is commonly referred to, is a lot to say in one breath no matter how you pronounce it—and for good reason. Like its lengthy name, the Center, which is based out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), is responsible for a long list of important traveler assistance programs at TSA.

Since 2005, the MSIJSOC has partnered with the Department of Defense and military services to facilitate the screening of injured veterans and their families, VIP Dignitaries, World War II Honor Flights, and Fallen Heroes. The MSIJSOC team is committed to ensuring every request is honored—and they get a lot of them.

Mark Balbuena puts his 30-plus years of customer service background to work every day as one of 10 travel protocol liaisons in the MSIJSOC. He and his colleagues coordinate with airports across the country to make sure military personnel and their families receive the necessary TSA support to ensure a positive airport security experience.

Balbuena and his colleagues have witnessed a lot of growth across all of the programs they support. When it comes to the Wounded Warriors program alone, the team has seen about a 150 percent increase in the total number of individuals assisted from 2010 to 2013. Last year they helped arrange support for about 10,500 individuals at airports across the country.

“What my colleagues and I do matters because we have an opportunity every day to support the brave men and women who sacrificed for our freedom,” Balbuena said. “Ensuring every military hero, both past and present, and their families have a top notch security experience motivates everyone on the team and the thousands of TSA employees across the country who provide on-site assistance. Often times, Wounded Warriors will let us know that the airport environment is made much less stressful because of the services TSA provides.”

“What the team and I find most rewarding about our work is not only assisting our national heroes and their families but also meeting them in person when they pass through DCA,” he said. “Being the closest airport to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Wounded Warriors are treated and recover, we meet many soldiers and their families at the start of their recovery and will often see them again and again until the day they are going home for good. These soldiers and their families endure a tremendous amount and to see the high spirits that they all possess throughout the recovery process is very rewarding.”

“The team and I are most proud of being able to do our part in making air travel easier for all of the military heroes we assist,” Balbuena said. “Young or old, the MSIJSOC is honored to help the men and women who served and sacrificed for the greater good of our nation. Their commitment to our nation is a driving force for the team’s dedication to ensuring they receive all of the assistance necessary to make their security experience stress and worry free.”
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