A new agreement between a Houston-based organization and the Texas A&M University System will help provide veterans throughout the state with needed resources.
Though Combined Arms is specifically located and focused in the Houston area, the addition of the Texas A&M University System will expand the organization’s reach of connecting veterans and military-affiliated individuals and families to services.
“A&M’s student veterans will be able to access the 400-plus resources available on the [Combined Arms] system, and A&M researchers will be able to recruit participants for studies involving veterans,” Combined Arms Marketing Manager Alan Nguyen said.
Monteigne Long, program coordinator for Texas A&M’s Office of Veteran Services, said the university system will add a higher education component. The agreement will begin with Texas A&M-Central Texas in Killeen before expanding to include system campuses in Galveston, Corpus Christi, Prairie View and the main campus in College Station. The goal is to have all five campuses in the program within the next year.
“It’s just really going to help streamline referrals to get veterans and military-affiliated students connected to resources and services more efficiently,” Long said.
Combined Arms makes for a simpler and accelerated connection between veterans and resources, according to a press release from the Texas A&M University System.
“Through their unique transition model, Combined Arms has created a new veteran service model, focusing on collective impact — reinventing what it means to serve veterans by creating pathways for them to access resources based on exactly what they have asked for,” the release continues.
Long said she would like to see the program expand to include all of the university system’s campuses throughout the state.
“Here in College Station, we have pretty good resources — both on our campus and in our community — for veterans, but at some of the regional schools there might not be as many resources available, so I think this will really help them get connected through Combined Arms to larger service-providing organizations,” she said.
Communities throughout the state still will have access to the Combined Arms resources through Texas A&M AgriLife.
In addition to connecting veterans and military-affiliated families with resources, Combined Arms also helps provide training. That training, Long said, will be used by veteran services staff members at the associated universities and AgriLife Extension agents.
“Extension agents will be able to reach out to their communities to veterans that are living there to also get them connected with resources, so it’ll be serving both our student population, but then the larger population of the state of Texas,” she said.
Through the program, Nguyen wrote in an email, a Combined Arms staff member or volunteer will be appointed to serve as the primary representative between the university system and the organization, providing monthly data and metrics reports as well as working with A&M staff members on projects, referrals, events and other programs.
The partnership has been in the works for about the past year, Long said, when Combined Arms CEO and Aggie John Boerstler,connected with the A&M Veteran Resource & Support Center.
“Combined Arms is excited to partner with The Texas A&M University System in order to help make Texas the best state for veterans and their families,” Boerstler said in a press release. “This partnership will undoubtedly advance the mission and vision of both The Texas A&M University System and Combined Arms by bringing together hundreds of Texas agencies to serve thousands of veteran families in innovative ways across the state.”
Long noted each of the organizations and resources that are affiliated with Combined Arms also have been thoroughly vetted before being offered to veterans. Another benefit, she said, is the timeline that Combined Arms works with — a less than 96-hour turnaround between the time the veteran makes contact with Combined Arms to when they are connected with an organization.
“It’s just nice that we know that these are vetted organizations, they’re reputable, they have great relationships already with Combined Arms, and that it can happen in such a nice, timely manner,” she said.
When veterans can continue working with the same person in the veteran services office and find the resources they need, that eliminates “many struggles or so many barriers or challenges” as they try to find the right resource or service, Long said.
“I think we’re really hoping that this will get veterans connected with the resources and services that they are seeking in a much more efficient manner” and streamline the process, she said. “… It’s great for the System that we can expand this across the state through AgriLife and the A&M System can then be serving veterans all across the state of Texas.”