AUSTIN, Texas — Veterans and their families can face significant challenges transitioning back to the civilian world – including a confusing, disconnected landscape of employment, education and health care support. A new service from The University of Texas at Austin aims to make things easier.
The Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness at UT Austin is teaming up with nonprofit Combined Arms to launch the Texas Veterans Network, an interconnected, streamlined network of support services created for active-duty service members, veterans and their family members.
“This statewide coordination of referral and resources is a game changer,” said Elisa Borah, director of the Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness, which is a joint effort of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Dell Medical School and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at UT Austin.
“Most transition support programs focus primarily on the veteran’s needs, and it’s really rare for families to also receive this type of transitional support – that’s where the institute comes in,” Borah said. As part of the Texas Veterans Network, the institute will provide peer and transition support services to veteran families across Texas, including referrals to organizations that deliver employment, education, health care, housing and volunteer opportunities for family members.
“This system simplifies finding resources to support the whole family’s transition, putting them in the driver’s seat to get matched to high-quality organizations to support a successful transition,” Borah said.
Historically, veteran services have been fragmented, existing in silos, lacking the effective communication needed to ensure the process of achieving quality, consistent care, according to Combined Arms CEO John Boerstler. The Texas Veterans Network will provide comprehensive, customized assessments to ensure access to effective services for veterans and families in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and in rural communities throughout the state.
The new system will also ensure that all federal, state and local government and nonprofit agencies are connected to the network to effectively coordinate access to local support organizations.
“The contact given to me in Arlington came through the same day and communicated with me for housing assistance, and I’m very appreciative,” said a veteran from Arlington, Texas, who served in the Army for 21 years. He said he called the Texas Veterans Network intake team and was connected within hours to a local nonprofit providing housing assistance and other services that he urgently needed.
“This new network will offer Texas veterans and their families an incredible range of services to help them adapt and thrive in all aspects of their lives,” said UT Austin interim President Jay Hartzell. “The University of Texas has a long and proud history of supporting our veterans and doing all we can to pay them back for the tremendous service they have provided to our nation. This marks the next step in our unending commitment to those who have sacrificed so much for the benefit of us all.”
“By continuing to invest in the expertise of the Texas Veterans Network, the impact on the transitioning veteran population is efficient and immediate,” Boerstler said. A Texas-based collaborative impact organization and one-stop resource hub for veterans in transition, Combined Arms uses an innovative approach of technology and service delivery to disrupt the veteran transition experience, creating a resource directory and referral system to ensure veterans and family members receive the information, resources and services they require.
The formation of the network is made possible by funding from the Texas Workforce Commission and The American Job Center Network, which have made significant contributions toward expanding employment for veterans after they have finished their military service.
For more information about the Texas Veterans Network, visit http://texasveterans.network.