Sharon is the Austin Regional Manager of Combined Arms, a one-stop resource for Veterans in transition.
Sharon spoke with us about the mission of their organization, what inspired her to work with women veterans, and her advice for women transitioning from the military.
Tell us about the mission of your organization.
The Combined Arms mission is to unite the community to accelerate the impact of Veterans during the transition process. We are a collaborative organization that links servicing organizations with Veterans and their families from all branches of service. The faster Veterans integrate into our community, the faster we are able to harness their passions and skills to make an impact. Through a logic-based technology platform called Echolink, we’ve created a “no wrong door” streamlined approach. We serve Veterans of all eras, transitioning service members, National Guard, and Reservists, as well as military dependents including former spouses and caregivers. Our member organizations offer a wide range of services including education, housing, employment, financial services, legal services, career building, VA benefits, volunteer opportunities, and community connection. Individuals take a personalized assessment that links them with organizations that they are qualified for. For instance, if a retired female Veteran is looking to volunteer in the community, we will link her to an organization that can help fill that need.
Combined Arms is originally headquartered in Houston, TX. Through the Texas Veterans Network (TVN) we are now servicing DFW Metroplex, Austin, El Paso and surrounding rural counties, making Texas the first interconnected state for Veterans.
Tell us about your current position.
I’m the Austin Regional Manager for Combined Arms. It’s my job to help build relationships in the Austin community with partnering organizations and create community awareness. We have a strong network of servicing organizations on the federal, state, national and local level for the individuals that we serve. It is my goal to create a strong holistic platform to help everyone in the community with the needs that they have.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your position?
I would say the most rewarding aspect is knowing that I’m able to serve in an organization that’s helping to fulfill the needs of the Veteran community and their families. Being a former military spouse, I know how difficult the transitioning process can be on the entire family unit. My transition process out of the military community was extremely hard because we were not prepared for the self-guided process and did not know which resources were available to us. I want to make sure the resources needed are visible and available to help support each family’s definition of success. We’re building out a platform that can meet those needs. Therefore, knowing that I’m working for an organization that’s helping people in that process is very fulfilling.
What inspired you to become involved working with women Veterans?
I was a stay at home parent for 12 years, so when I went to find a career for the first time, I had to reinvent myself. I found myself missing my military community, so I started looking for volunteer opportunities. That is when I found out about Combined Arms and applied for the Austin position. I love that I’m helping women Veterans. The women Veteran community, I’m learning, has very specific needs. They are strong and talented and have powerful voices. I’ve learned so much through the events I’ve participated in hearing them speak and sharing their stories. It’s extremely powerful to witness the support of women going through the transition process of reinventing themselves when entering into the civilian sector.
What advice do you have for women who are transitioning out of the military?
Seek support!! Take advantage of available resources even if you aren’t sure you need them. You are not alone, therefore you do not need to transition alone. There is a tremendous amount of support from servicing organizations out there that can make your journey easier and more successful.
Anything else you would like people to know about your organization?
With Combined Arms, all of the support that Texas transitioning service members, Veterans, and their families need are on one platform. It’s a one-stop shop for all types of transition resources. Our “no wrong door policy” means that it doesn’t matter your branch, gender, discharge status, or how you are connected with the military community. We have a servicing organization that can help you. Our member organizations are accountable to connect with Veterans that are referred to them after they fill out their assessment. It is such a big community, there is really something for everyone.