Texas Wide Open for Veterans Launch

Hope Andrade speaks Wednesday during the Texas Workforce Commission’s unveiling of the Texas Wide Open for Veterans website, a resource that connects veterans with employers.

Texas veterans exiting the military will have access to a new online resource.

Texas Wide Open for Veterans is the Texas Workforce Commission’s newest endeavor that seeks to connect employers with veterans.

“The Army is going to get smaller, and it’s going to get smaller in a hurry,” said Bill Parry, executive board member of the Association of the United States Army, at the site’s unveiling Wednesday at Workforce Solutions of Central Texas. “At the current time, it looks like the Army is going to an end-strength of 450,000 from its current 490,000 in the next two years.”

This will leave a host of veterans looking for employment during a time of uneasy economic growth across the country.

“Most don’t have an easy road,” said Thomas Palladino, executive director of the Texas Veterans Commission.

Palladino said some of the 300,000 Texas veterans younger than 40 will feel they are behind their friends and peers after exiting the military.

Still, he said, most will try to find employment in Texas, and the Texas Workforce Commission will be ready for them.

“There are 15 active-duty and reserve bases in Texas, more than any other state. We have 1.7 million veterans, second only to California and we’ll soon be overtaking them,” Palladino said. “Why is that? Because when veterans come here, they stay.”

Part of what makes veterans so invaluable to employers is their ability to handle stress and work as a team, said Robert Walter, director of consulting for CGI, adding veterans creates a positive outlook to among the workforce.

“‘Well, I’m not cold, wet, tired, hungry or being shot at, so life is good,’” Walter said veterans tell him. “That’s the general theme that a lot of veterans bring to you.”

Hope Andrade, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry as commissioner representing employers for the Texas Workforce Commission, said veterans can use Texas Wide Open for Veterans’ interactive map as a resource to find Veterans Affairs hospitals, community colleges, workforce centers and more.

“As you transition out of the military and into private sector life, I know there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Andrade said. “So, what we wanted to provide was some certainty.”

Parry is hoping veterans use Texas Wide Open to Veterans as an online resource to stay in Central Texas.

“Stay right here,” Parry said. “We’ve got a job for you, and we’re going to take care of you as a veteran and as a Texas veteran.”

cthorp@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552​

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