ABOUT US

Mission:

One: Support Texas military, veterans and family members with information and referral services and by facilitating the delivery of these services across traditional boundaries.  TexVet is dedicated to providing veterans, military members and their families with equal access to information. By collecting federal, state, and local Veteran Service Organization (VSO) information, TexVet has created an online Veterans Services Provider Network (VSPN).

Two: Serve as the hub for the statewide peer to peer counseling network and volunteers.  By documenting and supporting this network we will facilitate the delivery of services, increase engagement by volunteers and ensure the continuity of the network for the future.

Through this network and event-based activities, TexVet has initiated a "No Wrong Door" policy for the veteran community. Our Partners Across Texas have become more knowledgeable about the other services available to veterans. In turn, veterans are properly connected to the services they need most.

TexVet LogoAt the start of the new wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kathryn J. Kotrla, M.D. and Colonel Lori Sutton, commander of the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, identified certain issues and needs for military service members, their families, and other veterans in the state of Texas and worked to find ways to address those needs.  Among them was easy access to the services and benefits provided at many levels for the troops.

An original proposal written by Dr. Kotrla to secure start-up funds and initiate the collaborative venture for early identification of and intervention for post-deployment community, occupational and family re-integration was funded by the Veteran's Administration Central Office (VACO) through the Center of Excellence (COE). The intent of this initial funding was limited in duration to realign the program from the VA and into a non-VA agency which could solicit ongoing funding through grants, philanthropy, and other funding sources.

State funding was provided when S.B. 1058 was passed in April 2007, giving the Texas Adjutant General's Department the mandate to develop a program to provide referrals to service members for reintegration services.

Other notable TexVet partners include Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), Mental Health America-Texas (MHA-T), National Alliance on Mental Illness-Texas (NAMI-Texas), the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Veterans County Service Officers Association, Bring Everyone in the Zone (BEITZ), Texas 2-1-1 and other Veterans Service Organizations who share the mission of serving our Veterans and their Families.

The Need

As military personnel return to Texas from the global war on terror to their Texas families, their needs are becoming increasingly clear. These needs include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Homelessness, Unemployment, Finance, Education and Transitional Issues. Federal, State and local agencies (including non-profit organizations), have allocated resources to support the military families.

Some current issues identified by TexVet are:

• Texas agencies are not reaching the veterans and their families with information about their services.
• Peer to Peer (P2P) Facilitators are trained in large cohorts but little effort is made to engage and support these volunteers after training.
• There is little continuity of care in these services as veterans move around the state of Texas.
• Duplication of services to veterans, in which resources are not being used efficiently and time is wasted.

A Solution

In order to ensure veterans and their families have easy access to state-wide resources; TexVet developed a Veteran Services Provider Network (VSPN) in which information is gathered and disseminated. This comprehensive network allows veterans and their families to save time and effort when searching for services.

Joining Community Forces logoThrough collaborative efforts Partners Across Texas (PAT) also benefit by learning about like-minded programs, funding, and best practices to serve the veterans and their families. To identify partners in rural areas, TexVet collaborated with DSHS, TMF, and other organizations to reach the community leaders in those areas to capture information and services to veterans and their families. PAT has since developed into the Joning Community Forces: Texas (JCF-T) program.

TexVet will host a pair of statewide coordinators to curate and support the network of volunteer coordinators, volunteers, and others providing services to military, veterans, and family members in Texas.

Benefits: Creating a Veteran Services Provider Network (VSPN) statewide will be one of the key steps in closing the gaps in veteran services in Texas. TexVet has become the “hub” that provides vital information to serve the veterans and their families. This hub is fed further by event-based activities, led throughout Texas, where we are able to connect directly with the veterans, their families and the Partners.

This allows TexVet to get direct feedback from all in attendance and to strengthen our VSPN. This direct feedback helps us facilitate timely updates to the website and database.

Perry Jefferies hails from Waco, the son of a long line of Army Veterans and Shirley Jefferies, creator of the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.   He retired from the Army in 2004 and is a member of the Order of Saint George for service to Armor and Cavalry.

An original member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, he is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and the Disabled American Veterans and the parent of a Soldier. 

He is married to Mistee Jefferies,  professor of Nursing at Central Texas College in Killeen and a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Nursing to become a Family, Psychiatric, and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  He is a graduate of Pierce College in Washington, rides motorcycles and is a member of the Patriot Guard and Military Jeepers in his spare time.  He is the third manager of the TexVet Initiative for Texas A&M.

Micah Burnett is an Army veteran. In 2001, he deployed to Kosovo with the 10th Mountain Division. In 2003, Micah deployed to Iraq with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He received the Army Commendation Medal for his time in service.

Micah is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.

Born across from the Corpus Christi Bay, Betty grew up in the USAF town of Goldsboro, NC.  Following high school graduation, she moved with her parents and lived for a year in the "land down under."  After returning to the States, she met her late husband, Terry, at Abilene Christian University.   During Terry's service in the USCG, they lived from coast to coast ... from Texas to Florida to Virginia to California.

Betty is from a family of Veterans: her grandfather was a World War I Army "Muleskinner." Her father was an Army Personnel Officer, serving with the 50th General Hospital in Scotland and Normandy during World War II. Two of her uncles served in World War II in the U.S. Army; one uncle served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, in the Pacific … as did her father-in-law. Both her husband and brother were U.S. Coast Guard photo-journalists during the Vietnam Era. Her son volunteered with the Texas State Guard, and her nephew is U.S. Army, currently deployed. 

Prior to joining TexVet in July 2010, Betty wrote a weekly column for the Austin American-Statesman; edited newsletters and coordinated special projects for both statewide and nonprofit agencies; was the benefits manager for an Austin-based corporation; coordinated a county-wide coalition which focused on saving lives through the prevention of underage drinking; and served as a constituent liaison in the District 31 office of Congressman John R. Carter.  In her spare time, she is a loving “Mimi” to her 10 grandchildren.

Jonathan grew up in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and moved to Austin in 1999.  There's no place quite like Texas -  He can't imagine a finer city or state to live in.

When he's not working on the TexVet website, Jonathan is a semi-professional board game designer.  He publishes free-to-print games on his website at Invisible City Productions and runs an annual board game design conference: Protospiel South.  He spends quite a bit of time thinking about how the rules and systems we create interact with people to promote or discourage specific behaviors.  Consequently, he's a vocal advocate for making systems that robustly support their overt and implicit objectives through deliberate and intentional design.

Amy Pensyl grew up in Seabrook, Texas, right next door to NASA. She is a graduate of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Since graduation she has worked as a graphic designer specializing in print media ranging from newspapers to comic books. Additionally, she brings five years of Texas Health & Human Services experience with Food Stamps, TANF and Medicaid.

Amy comes from a family of teachers, preachers, and servicemen. Both of her grandfathers served in WWII. One -due to polio affecting his left arm- served in the Merchant Marines. The other had a career in the US Army Airforce during WWII and, after he refused to 'jump from a perfectly good plane' remained in the US Army for the rest of his career serving in Vietnam and Korea. Her uncles, great uncles and cousins are also veterans.

When not working to promote benefits for Texan Veterans, she is volunteering for the Austin Animal Center as a homeless pet photographer or working with the local charity 'Scare for the Cure.'