In 2018, Workforce Solutions partnered with Combined Arms to deliver comprehensive career services to veterans. This collaboration makes sense because the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has one of the fastest growing veteran populations in the country. According to the 2017 United States Census, there are an estimated 268,340 veterans in the Houston MSA, and more continue to relocate here due to the low cost of living and plethora of job opportunities. Hence, the Workforce Solutions and Combined Arms collaboration was a logical decision to address the potential influx of veteran job seekers.
Specifically, to better assist our veterans, the 13-county Gulf Coast region’s Workforce Solutions provides “veteran only” job page available on the largest job search database in Texas, http://www.WorkInTexas.com. In January 2019, there were over 200,000 total job openings for all job seekers in the region. In addition to the job search database, Workforce Solutions facilitates essential job search seminars to help veterans with their job search and beyond.
As a Veteran, I clearly understand the perils veterans experience when transitioning out of the military. Before leaving the military, I attended a week-long program called Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to help with the transition. I was given hope that employers would be lining up for me to fill their management roles. I’m not saying those opportunities were not available; however, it was difficult for me, in particular, to navigate the job search highway. After applying for a few jobs, I came to the realization that I must start an entry level position unless I had a college degree or at least some formal training. I went straight into the Marine Corps out of high school, so I didn’t feel that was an option for me. It was quite difficult to comprehend that with my experience, I had to start over. I mean I had traveled the world and trained and supervised Marines! How could I start from ground zero? This was the case in 2012.
Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m grateful to be in a position to assist with this collaboration as a Regional Navigator with Workforce Solutions. There are many Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) to assist with transitioning service members; however, Combined Arms is tackling the transition dilemma with a different approach. As quoted on their website:
Combined Arms is a dynamic, ever-evolving collaborative impact organization that is using an innovative approach to technology and service delivery to disrupt the veteran transition experience. By providing comprehensive support to military members and their families as they transition to civilian life, we are accelerating veteran transition in order to deliver maximum impact on Houston.
Essentially, Combined Arms is a “one-stop shop” similar to how the Coalition for the Homeless transformed the homeless response system in the Houston area by establishing Coordinated Access. Combined Arms utilizes a user-friendly website or portal to help veterans connect with resources. Getting connected can be done in as little as four steps:
- Step One: create a profile. It all starts here. Build out your personal profile to give us the data we need to match you with the best customized tools and resources.
- Step Two: take an assessment. A few quick questions and you’re on your way. Our fast and easy assessments uncover the resources you want, based on what you care about most.
- Step Three: Find the best services. The tools and events you want, all in one place. We take the luck out of finding top-tier services, matching you with our vetted best-in-class member organizations.
- Step Four: connect with organizations. Your personal resource list is ready. Quickly and easily connect with member organizations who will respond within 96 hours or less to get things rolling.
Combined Arms connects veterans to a variety of organizations and/or resources available in the region. Below are the main categories of resources veterans can be connected to:
- Community Services include volunteer opportunities and social events.
- Wellness Services include life wellness, fitness, and mental wellness.
- Professional Services include educational resources, growth and success, and career services.
- Essential Services include homeless services, financial resources, and veteran benefits.
- Entrepreneurship Services include getting veterans ready for business as well as expert legal services for service members.
The power is in the hands of the veteran to select the resource that will benefit him/her, depending on their situation. I am extremely excited to be a part of this partnership, and I hope our veterans are too.
Daniel Mabry is a member of the Workforce Solutions Regional Navigator team in the Houston-Galveston region. After serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 9 years, he connected with Workforce Solutions for career guidance and ended up becoming an employee. This position allows him to utilize his training and personal experience to help people experiencing homelessness.