Host: Trey Stone
Co-host: Dan Garrison
Career Gear Houston:
A Great Cause to Honor Veterans
Dan Garrison serves on the Board of Directors of Career Gear Houston. In 2014 when the organization realized that 50% of their clients are veterans, they put together a program called Mission Possible. The focus is to prepare men and women for job interviews and help them transition from their service in the military to the workplace. They take their skills & disciplines and help them translate that to gainful employment. The program started in 2014. Since then, they’ve been honored to assist more than 5,000 veterans with services from clothing & attire to prepare them physically for a job interview to resume writing and interviewing skills. They even have networking programs for them to meet potential employers.
Trey reflects on his time supporting Camp Hope when he served on the Board of Directors of the Houston Apartment Association. It was a place to help veterans get back on their feet as they settle into civilian life. Stacey Hunt is an executive with Grey Star and colleague of Trey’s in the real estate industry. He lost his son due to PTSD. His death brought a new level of awareness to Trey and some of their fellow colleagues. Many veterans need support as they transition to civilian life and civilian jobs. Employers like Trey respect veterans who apply for jobs because of the leadership potential, reliability, commitment, etc. However, they may not be qualified for higher level positions that require experience in an industry. They at some point have to get their first break of getting into civilian life and building a resume outside of the military. Trey explains that Career Gear does just that for military veterans and others who might be transitioning back to society after serving time. Trey says that you really don’t understand until you talk to one of these guys how damaging their service can be to them personally and we owe it to them to help.
Dan expresses that they are privileged to help as many veterans as they do through Career Gear. He also says that the work Camp Hope does is unbelievable. They are saving people’s lives and that’s a very high calling. Career Gear’s intention is to help them before they get to that kind of phase where they need a program like Camp Hope to help them. More than 20 veterans a day commit suicide in this country and the number may have increased due to the pandemic.
Become a Champion of Freedom
The current membership campaign to support Mission Possible is called “Become a Champion of Freedom.” For $228, someone can help support one veteran for an entire year. They go through classes and prepare for civilian jobs. It’s a small investment that gives so much. Their motto is to “serve those who served us.” Once things open up more post-Covid they believe they’ll see an onslaught of people coming through and needing services more than in the past.
Trey recalls working with veterans through Camp Hope and the importance of their relationships. Some veterans struggle with PTSD, nightmares, anxiety and other challenges every day. They turn to their “anchors” when they are having difficulties. One of those anchors is their relationships. Their relationships are family but also with co-workers. As they’re able to reenter the workforce, it can serve as an anchor. A job gives them a mission again but also helps them to form relationships through that job. It gives them something positive to be focused on. Always staying on mission allowed them to persevere in the military. Sometimes the expiration of the mission once they leave the service makes them feel adrift. Career Gear helps them find a new mission in civilian life. This can be preventative when it comes to homelessness or worse.
Dan explains that they don’t attempt to provide counseling or therapy but instead focus on supporting them in practical ways to obtain a job. They receive clothing donations through Career Gear. When they provide a suit to someone in need, they also teach them how to wear it and how to style it. It helps them feel like they are back in a uniform and there’s a certain amount of pride with that.
Another example of how they use their resources involves helping them translate their skillsets. Dan provided interview coaching before Covid-19 started. He recalls sitting down with a gentleman who said that he was struggling to express what he did in the service and how it could be beneficial for a job he was applying for. In the military, he was in charge of logistics. He was responsible for getting people, equipment, and supplies from point A to point B. Dan showed him how it translates to civilian jobs. He helped him craft his resume by taking the facts from what he did in the military and translating it to relatable job skills. He wasn’t sure how to do it on his own. In this particular case, Dan is unsure of the outcome aside from that he did get employed. Dan and Career Gear helped him bridge that gap.
Working with Veterans
Trey explains that veterans are massively qualified to translate their military skills into Human Resources, Management, Leadership Development, Supply-Chain Logistics, etc. There are so many ways that those skills apply perfectly but they often don’t know it. By helping them in the way that Career Gear helps them is more important than people would think. Sometimes giving them the encouragement that they can do it, that they are equipped for it, and making them look in the mirror to see that they look the part- is a huge difference for them. They have to live in their own bubble while in the service so it may be hard for them to feel like they fit in with an office environment but their skills are in a lot of ways more valuable than the ones they would have been learning in college. Trey asks us how can we squander, as a country, that resource. There’s a disconnect between all of these skills that these men and women are developing and the civilian workforce.
How to Support Career Gear
Visit the Website:
The homepage explains the Champions of Freedom and takes you to a page to fill out a form to join. You can also visit the various tabs including the Mission Possible tab. There are testimonials, videos, and more. You can click on the “get involved” tab at the top for more information. Any help is greatly appreciated- financially or by volunteering your time.