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United Way Awards $423,364 for Veterans Services

United Way of Tarrant County, largely through the support of Lockheed Martin, has allocated $423,364 to provide employment assistance, counseling and other high-priority community services needed by military service members who are returning to civilian life in local communities.

The money comes from the Tarrant County Veterans Fund established by United Way last year with $275,000 from Lockheed Martin and $25,000 from Bell Helicopter Textron. This year the companies have contributed $300,000 and $25,000, respectively. Additional donations and some unspent money from last year increased the pool for this year’s allocations to more than $423,000.

“The Veterans Fund was the brainchild of Lockheed Martin, and it has helped fill a real need in our community,” said United Way of Tarrant County CEO Tim McKinney.

Funds have been allocated to The Art Station; CLC, Inc.; Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth, Inc.; Recovery Resource Council; Tarrant County; Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County (VETCO); Grace After Fire; and 2-1-1 Texas at United Way. The funds will support these services:

Art Therapy Support Group: The Art Station has been awarded $21,000 for an art therapy support group facilitated by a trained counselor. Art making combined with counseling creates a visual language that helps veterans returning from service deal with emotions that are difficult or painful to express verbally. An 8-week initial curriculum followed by an 8-week advanced group will introduce the veterans to painting, sculpture and other art media and teach them how to integrate art therapy into their lives as a way to manage their mental health.

Training and Employment: CLC, Inc. will receive $75,000 for outreach, recruitment, skills training, job development and placement, and career advancement services for as many as 80 participants. Priority will be placed on assisting unemployed, underemployed or transitioning female veterans and their families along with other returning veterans facing special challenges. Among other support, participants will receive resume and interviewing assistance. Some will be enrolled in a CLC, Inc. skills training program of their choosing, including advanced materials repair, welding, machining, production or logistics. CLC, Inc. anticipates that the majority will be placed in jobs with an average starting salary of $15 an hour.

Career Planning and Job Placement: Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth, Inc. has been awarded $64,515 to help veterans seeking jobs connect with area employers. As a result of this investment, Goodwill projects that 375 military families will learn about Tarrant County veteran services. Of those individuals, it is projected that 200 unemployed or underemployed veterans will enroll in the “VET Worthy: Careers for Transitioning Military Families Initiative,” complete a career and financial plan, and participate in job training / job coaching sessions. Goodwill anticipates that 72 percent of them will get jobs paying at least $12.50 an hour.

Counseling, Consumer Advocacy and Peer Navigation: Recovery Resource Council has been awarded $96,649 for services that meet the needs of returning women veterans and their dependents, including coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual trauma, depression and addiction. The services include individual counseling, quarterly enrichment sessions, a weekly group for military dependents and a weekly peer support group. The program is designed to help women veterans fully integrate back into their family and community.

Veterans Court Diversion Program: Tarrant County will receive $62,000 for a program that diverts from prosecution to treatment non-violent offenders who are classified as still active duty or discharged returning veterans. The program offers 8 to 24 months of court-supervised treatment, in lieu of prosecution and a criminal record, for those charged with misdemeanors or low-level felonies.

Veterans Services Marketing and Outreach: The Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County (VETCO) has been awarded $25,000 to create and implement a marketing and outreach plan. VETCO strives to provide information to veterans and their families about services and events in Tarrant County. It also works to share best practices among organizations that serve veterans, and to foster a community of local veterans, their families and other concerned parties.

Peer-to-Peer Support Program: Grace After Fire will receive $25,000 for a peer support system created for women by women. The program focuses on self-understanding and self-development through structured interaction with trained facilitators and peers while identifying and addressing barriers women veterans face on the path to positive change.

Military Information and Referral Service: 2-1-1 Texas at United Way has been allocated $54,200 for a military information and referral specialist. This will be a veteran who will thoroughly assess the needs of veterans, active military and their families and refer them to the most appropriate services. The funding also will underwrite a guide to community services in an 8-county area, with a focus on Tarrant County, and an annual report documenting requests for services and unmet needs. Last year the 2-1-1 information and referral service received 5,087 military family calls for assistance.