The first installment in our series on what they are doing for Veterans in Houston.
A common issue that is discussed among Veterans and those that serve them is the disconnection of services and resources. In most communities across the nation there are various organizations serving Veterans in some capacity, but there is little to no connectivity between those organizations. The main reasons for this disconnection tend to be organizational infrastructure, or location, and lack of shared technology. At its core Combined Arms Houston (CTX) was established to address and solve these two issues.
What CTX is doing in the Greater Houston area is simply amazing. They are revolutionizing the Veterans experience and developing a model of community level service that should be adopted across the country. A few highlights:
Collaborative Collocated Working Space
One of the most interesting parts of what CTX is doing is the development of a Veteran collective or a “one-stop-shop” for Veterans in the community called the Transition Center. This is an idea that has been implemented on university campuses, but it is very interesting to see it at a community level. CTX’s network is 25+ organizations strong and at the Transition Center 9 of the Veteran Service Organizations are collocated together.
Basically, now because of what they are doing, there is no “wrong door” for Veterans in their community. The Veteran can go to one location and get access to everything they need. Also, this works out well for the organizations involved. First, for their involvement organizations are provided working space and office technology for free. Second, being collocated allows for organizations to organically collaborate and supports the “collision of ideas” when it comes to serving their Veteran population.
Another integral part of what CTX is doing is the implementation of a shared integrated service tracking and referral system. You can see the beta version of their “Get Connected” referral tool here. In most Veteran service environments there is no formal referral process or system in place to track whether or not the Veteran got the resources they were/are looking for. This system adds accountability to the referral process and will give the Veteran Service Organizations access to a client management tool for free.
Also, this technology will be able to track what resources Veterans in their area actually need and enable service providers with actionable information. This will all lead to the evolution of services.
The CAX Cafe and Gym
Finally, the other great thing about their work is that this is not just a space for those that serve Veterans, it’s a comfortable space for Veterans themselves. The basic idea with something like this is that you create a space in the community for Veterans and their families. A space where they can access what they need, come together in order to impact their community or support each other. With the addition of a cafe, a gym and various open spaces, Combined Arms Houston provides a one of a kind resource for Veterans in their community.
This space can easily foster the entrepreneurial spirit of the Veterans in the community, be a place where Veterans come together for weekly workouts and serve as a much needed landing spot for Veterans when they depart the service and arrive in the community. It can and will be so much more than that too.
This is the best model of community based services that I have seen, and it is a model that needs to be embraced by other communities across the nation.