Lifestyle, Residents

Cut From the Same Cloth

Blue Skies of Texas offers military retirees new connections through common backgrounds.

A sense of community is important—especially as we get older and it becomes more difficult to make new connections. At Blue Skies of Texas, it’s easy to meet new people. Many of our residents had careers in the military and adjacent industries which gives them a lot in common. A lot of residents traveled extensively for their careers, and many are still globetrotting today!

Texas native Paula Haley is a longtime resident of Blue Skies of Texas. She began adventuring shortly after college when she joined the Red Cross at the height of the Vietnam war. From 1968 to 1969, Paula volunteered with the Red Cross as a “Donut Dolly” and was stationed in Vietnam. After returning home, she still had a thirst for excitement. She joined the Air Force where she served for 21 years. She started as an officer in the training school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and retired as a lieutenant colonel, she even spent four years working at the Pentagon. After retirement, she came back to San Antonio to settle down. Not for long however, because she was quickly offered a position as the deputy director of the Sam Houston National Cemetery. A subsequent career opportunity took her to California to be the director of the Los Angeles National Cemetery. She did that for several years before returning to San Antonio and making her home at Blue Skies of Texas.

Incredible life is an understatement, but Paula keeps herself humble with optimism and a good sense of humor. “I woke up one day and I was 71, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ so I went out to Blue Skies of Texas and said, ‘okay, what have you got?’” she laughed. “They said, well, you don’t have to mow your grass anymore, and you have a cleaning lady that comes once a week, and you don’t have to cook anymore.” She moved into a little house on the West campus and has never been happier. The amenities offered give her more free time to do what brings her joy.

True to her nature, Paula is just as active in retirement as she was in her career. She teaches an AARP defensive driving course, and she also in charge of the Blue Skies Ambassador program. When prospective residents visit Blue Skies, Paula assigns the prospective resident to an established resident to spend time with each other. This gives people who are interested in moving to Blue Skies a good perspective of what life is really like living at Blue Skies. Paula loves meeting new people and finds she has a lot of in common with even the residents who don’t have a military background. “One woman I was assigned to had come all the way down here from Michigan because she watched the movie Rawhide on TV and wanted to live near where that took place.” Paula said.

Conversation comes naturally to Paula, and she finds that because people have such similar backgrounds at Blue Skies that the connections are even more meaningful. Residents bond through storytelling. Paula and another resident got to talking about an orphanage that Paula visited in Vietnam in 1968. As it turns out, the woman was the current owner! A chance encounter turned into an upcoming adventure for Paula. This Christmas, she’ll be traveling to Vietnam to volunteer at the same orphanage she visited when she was in the Red Cross.

“It’s going to be a real adventure for me to go back. But if it hadn’t been for Blue Skies, I wouldn’t have connected with this woman, who now lives here with her husband. I wouldn’t be going to Vietnam with her to help out, so this is really cool.”

Paula has an ironic history with Blue Skies of Texas. In her younger years when she was a mission support commander at nearby Lackland Air Force Base, she recalls a resident at Blue Skies being upset because the flag was put up 10 minutes late one morning. She laughs about it now and said, “I used to wonder who those people were who would get up early every morning to watch the flag go up, and now I’m one of those old people getting up early to watch the flag go up.”

“My favorite thing about Blue Skies is the people,” Paula said. She’s a great storyteller and she enjoys hearing other people’s stories as well. There are many women with impressive military careers just like her at Blue Skies. They have a hallway dedicated to pictures of the women of Blue Skies who have served. Paula helped organize a fashion show a few years ago for the women’s group.

The charm of Blue Skies of Texas is contagious. Friendly and humorous neighbors like Paula make new residents feel welcomed. The familiar military background of most of the residents opens doors and promotes connections. See our award-winning community for yourself by calling 866-553-5389 to schedule your tour today.