Goodwill Central Texas helps veterans transition from military to civilian work

For 20 years, Jason Stewart served in the U.S. military. He eventually landed in Central Texas working as a recruiter.

"An individual on LinkedIn reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we have this veterans program and we need some help,’" said Stewart.

A veteran – helping fellow veterans.

"Immediately, we understand each other and those barriers that we've dealt with," said Stewart. "We have a lot more tolerance than a normal organization because we understand the demographics we're working with and the challenges that come with that."

Goodwill’s veteran program helps veterans identify transferrable skills – or gain new ones – and apply them in civilian life, whether by connecting them with an outside employer or employing them within the organization itself.

"People look at Goodwill as retail stores or a place to bring our donations too, but the revenue generated from those stores fund our mission, and that's finding people work," said Stewart.


Stewart has moved on to a new role at Goodwill but still has a heart for fellow veterans and has a dozen or so that work directly under him.

"We have individuals working here now that I interviewed as veterans and brought in, and then we have an individual working here that replaced me when I retired from the military, and then I recruited him over here because I was so passionate about the organization," said Stewart. "So it came full circle."

Their services are also holistic - taking into account emotional and mental health.

"Maybe they’re homeless or trying to overcome addiction, and we just try to get them with as many case managers as possible to get them back on the right track," he said.

Bruce Marshall served in the military before doing a stint in prison.

"A lot of things I was just totally lost on after doing so much time, like computers," said Marshall, a warehouse supervisor. "It was my first job in many years, but the transition was pretty easy because you had the support of people here."

With the help of Goodwill staff, he combined old skills and new ones – plus hard work – to get a job and work his way up.

"I started here as a regular assembly worker, and I went from there to a team lead and made supervisor," said Marshall. "If you want to apply yourself, there’s room for advancements, there’s room for knowledge and there’s room for education."

Down the road from Marshall’s warehouse is the Goodwill Career & Technical Academy. The school provides accelerated training for career certifications for everything from a nursing assistant to computer programming.

GCTA, along with the Goodwill Excel Center - a free, public charter high school for adults - are two other options for veterans looking to grow their skill base.

"At the end of the day it’s just helping people that have barriers to employment," said Stewart. "How do we overcome them so they can be contributing members to society?"