United Way Aims To Make Itself A One Stop Shop For Veterans' Services

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Annually 3,000 veterans are choosing Houston and Harris County as a place to start civilian life. United Way of Greater Houston conducted a needs assessment for these veterans and found gaps in services. But it's hoping to change that.

With Houston having the 2nd largest veteran population in the country, the United Way wasn’t surprised to receive 13,000 calls last year from those who’ve served.

This number led it to conduct personal interviews, an extensive online survey with veteran service providers and community conversations with 100 former military members and their families to get a sense of what needs aren’t being met.

Anna Babin is president of United Way of Greater Houston.

“The kind of assistance they need is around job skills and career assistance. There’s a lot of mental health or post traumatic stress disorder, medical challenges, financial challenges and domestic and family challenges.”

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed put finding a job as their number one problem. So United Way decided to award a $100,000 grant to the best idea or ideas from organizations serving veterans to help with these specific issues. But that’s not all.

“And so we’re trying to develop a centrally located resource center to bring veteran groups together really for information referral. Sometimes the best tool for these families is just knowing the right place to go to get a specific need met.”

Babin also intends to hold quarterly meetings to bring these local veteran organizations together starting in April.

This initiative will continue for two years. Then a follow-up needs assessment will be conducted to gauge what has changed for the local veteran population and what are the new needs to be met. 

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...