Each year, Veterans Day salutes America’s veterans, past and present, for their service and sacrifice to the nation. But there are several local nonprofit organizations and businesses that foster awareness and appreciation of veterans all year long.
The United Way of Tarrant County Veterans Fund benefits military service members year-round who are returning to civilian life. During 2015-2016, $380,000 in Veterans Fund grants to area nonprofits are providing job assistance, legal and mental health services, and information and referral.
This year’s fund is underwritten with $300,000 from Lockheed Martin, $75,000 from Bell Helicopter and $5,000 from individual donors. Established two years ago, the fund is the brainchild of Lockheed Martin, which has provided most of the funding each year.
According to the 2010 census, veterans make up 8.3 percent (121,419) of Tarrant County’s total population. One in six of these veterans has a service-related disability that affects his or her employability.
CLC Inc., which helps returning veterans facing special challenges, is receiving $75,000 to provide employment and training services for as many as 80 participants. CLC offers training in advanced materials repair, welding, machining, production and logistics. CLC says most of the veterans will be placed in jobs paying $15 an hour.
Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth Inc. has been awarded $65,000 to help veterans and family members develop career and financial plans and participate in job or financial counseling. Goodwill’s objective is for 75 percent of veterans to land a job with a starting salary of at least $12.50 an hour.
Through a grant from the Walmart Foundation, Goodwill Fort Worth also has expanded Operation: GoodJobs, a program that helps veterans and their families connect with the training they need to get back to work and advance their careers. Operation: GoodJobs expects to serve more than 4,000 veterans and their family members nationwide, and between 300 and 500 in the Fort Worth area.
“At Goodwill, we strive to help all individuals with disabilities or other barriers to employment find meaningful employment and change lives through the power of work,” said David Cox, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth. “We are committed to not only employing veterans within our organization, but also preparing returning military members for employment in the competitive job market.”
Returning female veterans and their dependents can find help at Recovery Resource Council, which is receiving $75,000 for services including individual and group counseling and classes on parenting, budgeting and substance-abuse prevention. A veteran peer navigator helps the women with housing and employment.
The Tarrant County Bar Foundation (Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans – Tarrant County Chapter) has been allocated $10,000 to host pro bono clinics focused on the specific needs of returning veterans and families, including family law (divorce/custody), criminal law (traffic tickets) and employed-related legal advice.
Tarrant County Veterans Diversion Court is receiving $60,000 for a program that diverts, from prosecution to treatment, non-violent offenders who are classified as active duty or discharged returning veterans. For those charged with misdemeanors or low-level felonies, the program offers 8 to 24 months of court-supervised treatment in lieu of prosecution and a criminal record.
The American Red Cross has been awarded $50,000 for services that direct veterans and military families to sources of assistance. Clients speak with a trained volunteer navigator who assists in assessing and prioritizing needs and creating a plan.
United Way’s 2-1-1 Texas, an information and referral service, has been granted $45,000 for a military information and referral specialist position filled by a veteran with a social work degree. The specialist will assist veterans and military families who call the service.
United Way’s 2-1-1 service serves Erath, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Tarrant and Wise counties. According to the 2-1-1 military annual report, last year the agency received 5,894 military calls, with 89 percent of them from Tarrant County. Seventy-eight percent received help from the sources to which they were referred.
Military calls to 2-1-1 increased 16 percent from 2013 to 2014, compared with a 4 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. Of the calls, 96 percent were from veterans and 4 percent were active duty. The most frequent need was help in paying electricity bills, followed by help with rent payment and food.
In addition to these grants, a resource guide is available for free to veteran and active duty service members and their families. The guide is produced by United Way’s 2-1-1 service along with the Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County and with funding from Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter. The guide includes information and resources specific to United Way of Tarrant County’s service area, with an emphasis on Tarrant County.