Good Morning – I am Perry Jefferies and I am privileged to be the manager of TexVet, an initiative of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
John F. Kennedy said"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
We all hear and understand the struggles of the population as a whole for jobs. But, this climate has hit our Veteran population particularly hard. This promises to become an even bigger challenge as the Iraq war winds down and troops begin filing back to our shores from all over the world. In the Army alone there are plans to cut back 50,000 Soldiers, dropping the strength below that on the day that the Long War started.Many of these troops will return to Texas. With the second largest population of Veterans in the U.S., over a dozen major military installations, and about 200,000 active duty troops now, any cuts will disproportionately affect us.Fort Bliss is a good example too, of how many, many troops exiting the military tend to stay in Texas because of our great benefits, beautiful weather, and generally superior attitude.
You hear a lot about the latest, greatest generation and how hard they’ve fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many un-named places. I know that you also hear that many have been injured and seek some sort of treatment. That is true – no one wades a stream without getting wet and no one comes back from war unchanged. But for most – this is a toughening process. It is a self-awareness generation engine. Their efforts overseas, for us, may produce struggles, but those efforts also produce tested, accomplished people.At TexVet, we believe that Veterans need a job and a cause. Jobs because they are young, and have families, and bills to pay, and responsibilities to uphold. A cause because the Veteran has often become accustomed to fighting for something greater than herself. These Veterans are committed to this country and to each other and are willing to go the extra mile to keep each other together. When I returned from Iraq it was the Viet Nam Veterans that came forward – said “don’t wait” – “get organized.” And we did. And I got a job to pay the bills.
Senator, Army Captain, and Medal of Honor awardee Daniel Inouye said: “One doesn't become a soldier in a week - it takes training, study and discipline. There is no question that the finest Army in the world is found in the United States.”We’ve all seen this mess…But let me show you some real Soldiers
Adam Roe – disabled Vet. Drove an unarmored HMMWV over 10,000 miles during the invasion of Iraq. Used his carpenter skills to build everything.He used Vocational Rehabilitation benefits to become a skilled motorcycle mechanic. Was kept on while more senior mechanics had to be laid off and moved to advanced schools ahead of his workmates.
James Grimes – trained in Army electronics and communications. Excelled at combat tasks, shooting Bradleys and tanks. Ran small outposts and made the squadron talk.Serves now as a decorated police officer. Nothing in his Army paperwork would suggest that he could do this. But, if you knew him, you knew that he was tough, fair, detail-oriented, tech-savvy. A little resume help and he is well into his second career.Oh yes – he had a serious TBI, PTSD, and has controlled it without incident or comment.
Young man on the left smiled and joked his way through Iraq. He managed a fleet of trucks (actually his platoon sergeant did most of the work). Got picked up by a little school named Harvard.He was the director of finance for a major new electric car company and is now a partner of a venture capital and private equity firm.Guy on the right – Juliard.Don’t underestimate these troops.
He processed leave forms, payrolls, and ghost-wrote speeches for our commander. We teased him. A lot.Now, former Captain Newman is a clerk on the Supreme Court of the U.S.
The Pinnacle Five are a group of the most senior enlisted members of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. They came together to work with Military.com to send a clear message: Veterans make great employees. Their focus is that, when you hire a Veteran, you are hiring a set of attributes that are greater than the sum of the resume bullets.
One of the most positive things about hiring Veterans is that they come with their own support structure. Texas is particularly appealing in this respect as there are so many services and helping agencies ready to lend a hand. This can take a burden off of you – the employer. In many cases, services or human resources that you may afford other employees aren’t necessary to the Veteran because those needs are addressed. The main thing they may need from you could be a little time or a little flexibility to make sure they access the services offered.
But – it can be overwhelming. Sometimes there are just too many choices offered. Finding the right ones can be a bit tricky. It is not much of a joke when I say that you can find yourself outside the gate of Fort Hood with a duffel bag full of pamphlets and no idea how to pay a light bill. That’s about what happened to me. Having an HR department with Veterans in it can be invaluable to the Veterans in your company and can save you a lot of time and trouble by quickly sorting through the Veterans needs. We call this peer to peer facilitation. That doesn’t have to look like a sit around kum bay yah counseling session (although it could). Sometimes a peer only has to translate a military type request into a civilian one and point the Veteran at the right place. This is where TexVet comes in.
This is where TexVet comes in.TexVet is dedicated to providing veterans, military members and their families with equal access to information. By collecting federal, state, and local Veteran Service Organization (VSO) information, we’ve worked with Texas 2-1-1 and others to create an information and referral service and a great schedule of Veteran’s events in the state.Through this network and event-based activities, TexVet has initiated a “No Wrong Door” policy for the veteran community. Our Partners Across Texas have become more knowledgeable about the other services available to veterans. In turn, veterans are properly connected to the services they need most.Notable TexVet partners include the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Texas Veterans Commission, the Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Military Forces, Department of Veterans Affairs, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), Mental Health America-Texas (MHA-T), National Alliance on Mental Illness-Texas (NAMI-Texas), the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Veterans County Service Officers Association, Bring Everyone in the Zone (BEITZ), and other great VSO’s.
Silos…not just for grain anymore…Silos were designed for farmers to store and protect their grain. They have been used for thousands of years. The problem is that now we store information in them instead of sharing information. I’m sure you’ve seen people that have made a nice little home in their silo. Some have gone a little crazy and others have perfected their lives….living in a silo.
We see lots and lots of VA Facilities. There are hospitals, Vet Centers, Vet Clinics, VBA Administration buildings, community outreach trailers and more. The Texas Veterans Commission is in the workforce centers, the VA hospitals, and on some military bases. They even hosted a tail gate party this weekend at the UT / Texas Tech game.
BEITZ, Inc. has trained over 400 Peer to Peer facilitators in the state of Texas. And there is Grace After Fire, Vets 4 Vets, and Via Hope, to name some others. But how do these all relate?
Our aim is to document and support these (and any other resource for our Texas Military, Veterans and Family members). By doing so, patterns emerge. For instance, overlaying the dots for trained P2P facilitators with population data (darker means more Veterans) we can see some challenges already emerging.
Our goal is to break down these silos and mix it up. We do that by collecting and sharing resources and events on our website. We do that by attending meetings like this and the Partners Across Texas meetings in each region quarterly. We do that through the amazing work of Mrs. Betty Sandefur and her volunteers calling, cataloging and updating daily.
In the future we will do it by empowering this DSHS funded project to place Volunteer Coordinators around the state and have them make contact with resources in their area – whether they are trained facilitators, VA counselors, or just concerned citizens offering a discount to a Veteran. Goodwill is an employment partner now – I hope you will be soon.
These are some of the things we are working on. I guess that I need more work on reducing redundancy.
With these tools and more we aim to try to reach out to the newest generation. But we still use phones and personal appearances every day. Not every Vet has access to a computer they can use and feel comfortable with.
We urge you to plug into the network either as a Partner, Resource, or User. Know that we are here for you and direct your Veterans and supporters this way – help us to help you.
This is our website now.
Here is a first look at what should be my Christmas present.
One of my best young men, a Veteran, calls my high-speed, desktop computer the “Grandpa Box.” Our goal is to get So-Lo-Mo & give our volunteers and coordinators a location aware – portable site or app that they can hold in their hand and it will then direct them to the closest, most appropriate resources.
To summarize: Although for some Veterans, those first days out of the service, away from the structure and the schedules, can feel like one-hand-drumming. It makes some noise and motion but doesn’t really have rhythm. We, and many agencies in Texas are working to give our Texas Military, Veterans, and Family Members all the drumbeats they need. You may notice that it looks like he’s trying to toot his own horn at the same time. Recognize our Veteran’s strengths and resources and let’s do that for them.
This is how you can get ahold of me (and just about any other Veteran resource in Texas). Don’t be shy. I leave you with this: Veterans may not look or sound like someone that didn’t go off to war. But, as statesman and author, Michel de Montaigne, father of modern skepticism, said: "Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." Subject to your questions?
» “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the national unemployment rate remains mostly unchanged at 9 percent, while the jobless rate for veterans of all generations dropped to 7.7 percent in October, down from 8.1 percent in September. But for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans who left active duty since 2001, the unemployment rate for October was 12.1 percent, up from 11.7 percent in September and from an average of 10.5 percent in 2010.”
»Veterans aren’t victims»A job and a cause are pathways to re-integration
» Veterans… ˃Learn Quickly ˃Accept Leadership Roles ˃Work Well with Culturally Diverse Teams ˃Readily Adapt to Age Diverse Organizations ˃Embrace Innovation and Change ˃Perform Efficiently Under Pressure ˃Understand Technology ˃Accept Risk and Accountability ˃Operate with Integrity ˃Focus on Health and Safety Concerns www.PinnacleFive.com
TexVet Missions:» One – Support Texas military, veterans and family members with information and referral services and by facilitating the delivery of these services across traditional boundaries.» Two – Serve as the hub for the statewide peer to peer facilitation network and volunteers. By documenting and supporting this network we will facilitate the delivery of services, increase engagement by volunteers and ensure the continuity of the network for the future.
Volunteer BEITZ Reg. Mtg Volunteer LMHA SVA VAEl PasoLubbockTarrant CountyDallas CountyCorpus ChristieTylerSan AntonioGalveston J. DoeHoustonAustin
» Statewide P2P Network» Coordinators at local & state level search, connect & document points on the network» “Back End” support to P2P network and all involved in that support » Accessibility increased : redundancy reduced: reduce redundancy
» Texas Military, Veterans, and Family Members have unparalleled support & benefits» Safety net for Veterans adds resiliency to employers» Veterans have someone to turn to – You have someone to turn to
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