Veterans leaving the military face a huge difficulty transitioning to civilian life. Most pronounced is that they lack access to personal and professional networks when they leave the military. While in the military they and their families are part of a unit and a strong support network with clear direction for career paths and family services. We believe that the best service we can provide veterans during their transition is access to a community of veterans that have already transitioned, who have walked the road they find themselves on presently and have the time and ability to give back to strengthen their careers and families.
In order to provide that community, we have to gather our successful veterans that have already transitioned, that are leading their industries and companies in their careers. We need classmates and friends, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives who are secure in their family lives. We need community building activities that gather our leaders, volunteers, and veterans to connect with one another. The greatest resource that can be provided to veterans is one that connects them with other veterans.
With dozen of events there is always opportunities to meet other veterans, share stories, be inspired, build your network, and strengthen your career & your family.
The problems that face veterans both as they transition from the military and once they have transitioned are daunting. No single organization can provide all the programming or resources necessary to be successful. We do not try to be everything to our veterans, instead we focus on one thing. Building the community of veterans.
Building the community of veterans means creating opportunities for veterans to come together, to connect, to share stories, to feel a part of a whole, and to help one another. We’ve Been There, and we’ll be there for you too.
We have all served, we have all been part of the greatest military force in history, we have all graduated from the most field tested leadership training, we’ve all been through the transition back to civilian life, and we are here for veterans and their families. We’ve Been There.
The focus on individual veterans and their families under Combined Arms began with the merger of the organization with the Lone Star Veterans Association (LSVA) in March of 2019. The merger was announced at the 10 Year Anniversary celebration for LSVA. LSVA celebrated 10 years of building the veteran community. We began in 2009 by focusing on veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then we had expanded that focus to include other critical members of the veteran community where all are represented, veterans and families, connected together around a common vision of One Veteran Community.
We wanted to make sure that our community is defined by our strengths, not just our challenges. As Veterans, we aspire to be defined by our excellence, by our service, and by our ability to lead our communities through the many challenges and opportunities ahead. Together we can build One Veteran Community where we accelerate the impact of veterans on Texas.
Looking at the next 10 years we wanted this program model to extend beyond Houston. Better technology enables this achievement. Engaging and monitoring thousands of veterans each year ensures that the right services and support find the right needs much quicker than ever before.
That’s why we were proud to announce that we were merging with Combined Arms, the best in class non-profit specifically focused on building the veteran community.
In 2016 we launched our Community Leader program in order to provide leadership opportunities for veterans, spouses, and patriotic civilians to lead our community building efforts. These leaders sign up to receive mental health, peer mentor, and active listening training in order to become advocates for our members. They connect, refer, and accelerate their peers through our community building events leading our networking and social events. Community Leaders take on a financial and time commitment to Combined Arms.
Those interested in leading our mission to build the veteran community should apply below. One of our staff will reach out to you to assess your potential for fitting this role, which affinity group would be right for you, and potentially which existing community leader should mentor you.
All new community leaders must be recommended by their community leader mentor. They must be mentored for a minimum of 2 months prior to recommendation. Following the recommendation the candidate will undergo a full employee screening and vetting process. Community Leaders are volunteer, unpaid positions but we treat them like employees. They are part of our team and family, and due all the respect owed to our team.
We launched our Community Leader program in order to provide leadership opportunities for veterans, spouses, and patriotic civilians to lead our community building efforts. These leaders sign up to receive mental health, peer mentor, and active listening training in order to become advocates for our members. They recruit, navigate, and develop their peers through our community building events leading our affinity groups.
We also aggregate and promote the community building efforts and events of our member organizations.
The team at Combined Arms intimately understands what it is like to go through transition because they’ve been through it themselves. They are here to take the luck out of transition, and ensure that NO veteran slips through the cracks.
John's experience as a service member in the U.S. Marine Corps and personal commitment to building community through connecting veteran service organizations led him to public service, and as the CEO of Combined Arms, he is focused on the "Why?" behind the organization-bringing each consideration back to the core mission. His purpose is to execute the strategic mission and vision of Combined Arms to ensure that all veterans can unite with their communities to provide long lasting economic impact.
Mike brings over 9 years of military, corporate, and non-profit experience to Combined Arms as the Chief Development Officer. He knows firsthand the obstacles that service members and families face during the transition process, and is proud devoting his time ensuring that veterans are empowered to connect with and accelerate the impact on their communities. Mike's purpose is to develop diverse revenue streams and support mechanisms that fuel scalability and sustainability for Combined Arms in the many years to come.
Kevin is the Chief Operating Officer at Combined Arms, where his goal is to see the veteran service organization model of service grow and develop to address the needs and problems of the current generation of veterans leaving military service. He has experience in building plans for statewide scalability of organizations by developing and restructuring finances, operations, and programs. Since leaving the military, he's worked with various charities and serves as officer and mentor in various small business organizations.
As Development Director, Annie is building strong relationships within Houston and across the state of Texas to support the Combined Arms mission. Annie has played an integral role in supporting veterans within the Houston community as the Military Chairman for the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four in Houston along with her role as the Associate Director of Admissions at the Rice Jones Graduate School of business working with students transitioning out of the military.
Annie has lived and worked in California and New York but found her way back to her native home of Houston. Her previous experience lies within the sports-industry working for ABC Sports / Monday Night Football, the Houston Rockets, Super Bowl 51 and the Brooklyn Nets.
In his role as Systems Director, Bryan brings 9-years of building military nonprofits in the Houston area as well as expertise in mediation, public deliberation and peer mentoring to the Combined Arms team. He designs collaborative strategies and leads the chairs of the Collaboration Committees to optimize the collective impact of member organizations on veteran communities. Bryan oversees accountability of all member organizations, the due diligence process of new prospective member organizations, and the Process Improvement Team. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Bryan earned both the Navy Achievement Medal and a Purple Heart for his work as a Combat Engineer specializing in explosives while serving in the Al-Anbar Province in Iraq.
Tanna is a native-Texan having recently relocated to the Houston area after 30 years in Los Angeles. Her professional experience in the entertainment and outdoor sports industries led to joining the Board of Directors of THERAsurf, a Malibu-based nonprofit focused on bringing kids with disabilities the experience of surfing. After transitioning to Houston months before Hurricane Harvey, Tanna's time volunteering with Lone Star Veterans Association in the aftermath of the storm led to a career-shift joining Travis Manion Foundation's regional staff, then leading a national program for the nonprofit organization. She created the service-based group Lady Spartans while at Travis Manion Foundation and continues to create and execute mentoring opportunities for the women's group while fulfilling her role as Events Manager for Combined Arms.
Monique serves as the Social Services Manager at Combined Arms, helping vets find exactly what they're looking for and connecting them with the resources they need. A Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Monique knows the challenges veterans face because she has experienced them personally as a former U.S. Army service member and is married to a vet, too. She trained at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and has worked to create a positive impact within the veteran population of Houston since 2011. In addition to her professional focus in social work, Monique has served as the 5th Platoon Leader for The Mission Continues Houston and as Co-Chair for the Women Veterans Empowerment Expo.
Johanna serves as the Social Services Manager at Combined Arms, helping vets find exactly what they're looking for and connecting them with the resources they need. A licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Johanna knows the challenges veterans face because she has experienced them personally- she's a former U.S. Army service member and provided counseling to service members. She trained at FT Drum, New York in a variety of social work sections such as the Warrior Transition Unit, Family Advocacy, and as an assigned counselor for a 10th Mountain Division unit. In addition to her professional focus on social work, Johanna volunteers with the American Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces and a member of the American Legion.
As the Expansion Manager, he is responsible for overseeing the expansion utilizing the Salesforce platform into other cities that are requesting the services of Combined Arms. He spent time at Azimuth DS assisting with developing and implementing the Salesforce platform for their clients mainly focusing on Veteran Service Organizations. Prior to that, he was at NextOp assisting veterans gain meaningful employment while managing their Salesforce platform. As a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, he understands the transition phase and how Combined Arms can play in integral part in a veteran's success.
As Technology Platform Manager, Nainita is responsible for Combined Arms operational and tactical execution of technology objectives.
She started her career as Software Engineer at Siemens Information Systems Limited after her Bachelors Degree in Information Technology.
She brings in more than 10 years of technology project management and consulting experience for clients in packaged food, manufacturing, telecommunication, media, travel and IT services industries.
Prior to Combined arms, she worked with Tata Consultancy Services for several international clients in various countries including Sweden, UK, Germany, India, and USA where she led and implemented IT service management projects.
As the Gym Manager at Combined Arms, Earl brings his expertise with an Associates Degree in Exercise Science and specializes in adaptive training. He has been heavily involved in mentoring youth and volunteering in several organizations in the Houston area and is a formally trained peer mentor. His main purpose is to rally the veteran community and to inform them about the benefits of physical activity. He is providing free fitness classes, wellness events, and seminars to help educate in an environment that will be welcoming for the veteran and their families. Through teamwork, motivation, and encouragement he will strive to teach others veteran how to break their own mental thresholds through exercise. Earl is a Purple Heart recipient and the third generation in his family to serve in 82nd Airborne Division.
Alan Nguyen serves as the Marketing Manager at Combined Arms. He's responsible for the branding, messaging, and storytelling for them, their member organizations, veterans, their families, and supporters. He brings experience from a varied marketing background, including the Black Sheep Agency and the Children's Museum of Houston - and captures moments of impact through photography in order to make sure they're documented to portray the best sides of people's service to their communities.
Brooke Ashley serves as the Marketing Coordinator at Combined Arms and manages the daily social media content as well as create larger strategic marketing planning. She is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University with experience and expertise in digital marketing in the health care and retail industries. Most recently, she lead social media and other digital marketing tactics for the nationźĺ's largest private, for-profit physician-led health care network, Steward Health Care.
Alexa Parker is a native Texan and proud Texas A&M University graduate. She serves as the Regional Manager for Combined Arms, and is located in Austin, Texas where her goal is to engage the Texas legislature, state agencies, and other key stakeholders. Most recently, Alexa spent time at the Texas Capitol where she worked as a legislative and press assistant for a state representative. She uses the knowledge and connections she made at the Capitol to educate our elected officials about the goals and mission of Combined Arms and its expansion across the state.
Tina serves as the Collaboration Manager at Combined Arms. She is responsible for producing the collaborative work of the member organizations and key stakeholders. She leads the seven unique committee chairs to take each committee’s objective from concept to completion. Tina is also responsible for processing new member organizations, training them and onboarding them into the system. Additionally, she produces development training for the member organization staff members and initiates innovative collaboration methodologies to lead the committees and member organizations to reach their annual goals and visions. Tina is a U.S. Air Force veteran and served for over nine years as a Personnel Officer. Throughout her service she led and managed teams across the full spectrum of Force Support Operations including Readiness and Emergency Management, Casualty & Mortuary, Protocol, Morale Welfare & Recreation, Sustainment Services, Force Development, Sexual Assault Prevention & Response and Human Resources Management.
Katie serves as the Houston Community Research Assistant for Operation Deep Dive, a national effort to address the sociocultural aspects of veteran suicides. As a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Katie has been intensively trained in community-based participatory research, which informs her work in qualitative data collection, quantitative data management and stakeholder engagement - all key components to the success of Operation Deep Dive.
John is a 9 year Marine Corps Veteran and is beyond passionate about the veteran community. As the Collaboration Coordinator, John is the foundation of Combined Arms and is vital to our future success. Charged with fostering a vibrant atmosphere where member organizations can work and socialize productively, he is also responsible for proactively engaging with member organizations, rapidly responding to and resolving issues, taking care of the physical space, and setting the overall tone for the community. John is the first person current members see when they walk in. He is also a part of our Intake Team, where he assesses our clients in need and refers them to the correct resource. John is pursuing his bachelors at UHD.
Christy Chatham, United States Army Veteran, is a servant leader who continues to help those that have fought for this country, her brothers and sisters in arms. In the Army, she was a Military Intelligence Analyst, specializing in imagery and human intelligence. Her service continued at the Department of Veterans Affairs Michael E Debakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX as a medical support assistant and lean project administrative lead and was also chosen to participate in VAs Junior leadership program. She was a Veterans Service Representative at Houston's VA Regional Benefit Office in Houston, TX, assisting with building supportive evidence for VA disability claims.
Christy relocated to Washington, DC to serve in the Executive Branch for the Office of Government Ethics where she was a program analyst- compliance division assisting in the transition of the Obama and Trump Administrations. While in DC, she started her own non profit, Femmevet, that was specially geared to assist female Veterans with their intricate needs. Because of her work for female veterans, she was referred by Texas Veterans Commission to serve as the Director of Women Veteran Services for Catholic Charities in Houston, TX, where she managed a shelter specifically for female veterans, managed programs in 3 counties, advocated for legislation for women veteran issues, homeless intervention and financial assistance.
She now serves as the Director of Veterans Behavioral Health for Mental Health America of Greater Houston.
Christy is earning her Masters Degree in Public Administration from Texas Southern University. She currently possess a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, minoring in Public Administration and an Associates degree in Business Management from Houston Community College.
Josh Templeton is the Social Impact Committee Chair at Combined Arts. His eight glorious years in the Marine Corps saw him work in a range of trade skill-based MOS’s and as a Marine Security Guard at embassies around the world. His experiences within the Corps lends itself handily to coordinating service projects designed to assist community Veterans with limited resources and support networks.
During his various assignments, Josh’s experience spanned everything from managing the day to day operations at Marine Security Detail at multiple United States Embassies located around the world, liaising with various law enforcement agencies to manage security threats, and construction MOS’s that involved designing and building everything from furniture to residential structures. After leaving the Marines, Josh has continued to serve his community as a firefighter for the Houston Fire Department.
Josh prides himself on his ability to connect with the community, which is integral to managing Combined Arms’ projects. His enthusiasm, outgoing personality, and attention to detail (as well as his smoked brisket) helps him bring together volunteers, skilled Veterans, and local community support to complete projects that make an impact in Veterans’ lives.
Hannah O’Brien is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Steve Hicks School of Social Work Masters program, and received her Bachelor's degree in Law and Society from American University in Washington, D.C. Upon beginning her graduate studies, Hannah met and fell in love with a Marine veteran and knew she wanted to make a career out of serving veterans and their families. Hannah currently serves as a Program Manager for The Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness at The University of Texas at Austin, managing programs such as the Veteran Spouse Network, and the Veteran Spouse Resiliency group program. She also serves as the chair of the Caregiver Collaboration Committee, helping Combined Arms serve those who care for our nation's veterans.
Monteigne Long is the Program Coordinator for the Office of Veteran Services with The Texas A&M University System. She has been working with student veterans in higher education since 2010, when colleges and universities saw a large influx of Post 9/11 veterans. Prior to joining The Texas A&M University System, Monteigne served as the Veterans Coordinator at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, CA, and opened the first Veterans Resource Center at California State University, Northridge.
Monteigne received a bachelor's degree in Marketing from Texas A&M University and a master's degree in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education Administration at Texas A&M University.
Her professional affiliations include memberships in the National Association of Veteran Program Administrators (NAVPA), the Western Association of Veterans Education Specialists (WAVES), the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME), and the Texas Association of Collegiate Veteran Program Officials (TACVPO).
Chrystal completed her Master's Degree in Social Work in 2013, with an emphasis in Military Social Work and has been serving the veteran community since. As a program manager for a national veteran service organization, Hope For The Warriors, and the spouse of a Marine Corps veteran, Chrystal understands the multilayered needs of veterans and their families. Her background is in political science and previously worked for the Arizona State Senate. Chrystal resides in Conroe with her husband and two daughters.
As Chairman of the Board and a founder of Combined Arms, Bryan Foster provides leadership and oversight to ensure that Combined Arms stays true to the heart of its mission: empowering veterans and accelerating their impact on Houston. Leveraging his entrepreneurial and financial advisory background, Bryan is a strong driver in building a sustainable and impactful organization that both accelerates the impact of veterans and benefits the community at large. Bryan views his work with Combined Arms as an opportunity to reconnect with his Army past and to help other veterans develop into leaders.
Lauren Gore is a Principal and co-founder of LDR Investment Group (LDR). LDR is a growth and innovation advisory firm specializing in growth initiatives for financial institutions. LDR has a strong track record working with management teams to enhance growth and innovation projects. Outside of LDR, Lauren is a member of the Boards of Directors at Communities in School and Combined Arms, where he serves as Vice Chairman of the Board.
Ashley is a Tax Director at Kinder Morgan-Houston, focusing on partnership taxation and mergers & acquisitions primarily in the midstream oil & gas market. Prior to Kinder Morgan, Ashley worked for Copano Energy and PKF of Texas. A University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate and Phi Mu Fraternity alumni, Ashley is the wife of Marine Corps Corporal Christopher Eastin, a post-9/11 veteran. When not supporting the Combined Arms Spouses Group, she serves on the PTO at Saint Anne Catholic School, volunteers for the Saint Anne School Foundation, assists in coaching soccer, and is Troop Treasurer for her daughter's Girl Scout troop.
As Treasurer, Andrew works with the Managing Director of Combined Arms to oversee the financial aspects of the organization. His expertise in finance, tax, treasury, budgeting and forecasting, in addition to general business and management experience, helps ensure Combined Arms is operating with stewardship, service, and efficiency to serve veterans in Houston.
Jonny serves as Associate Attorney with Baker Botts, LLP - Houston, focusing on energy litigation, toxic tort litigation, and complex commercial disputes. A member of the Corps of Cadets and the Ross Volunteer Company, the Texas A&M graduate served 5 years in the US Army, earning his Ranger Tab as an infantry officer. Deployed to Iraq twice, Jonny was awarded the Bronze Star Medal twice, earned the Combat Infantry Badge, and served an additional three years in the Massachusetts National Guard as an Officer Candidate Instructor. Jonny is committed to ensuring Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are prepared for success in the civilian world.
Doug is founder and owner of Sallyport Investments, LLC. and is the former chairman, president, and chief executive officer of El Paso Corporation. He brings over 30 years of experience in the energy industry. Foshee has been actively involved in civic and philanthropic endeavors for many years. He founded and is a director of NextOp Vets, a non-profit organization that provides job placement assistance, mentorship, support, and education for Veterans. He also supports scholarship programs at Rice University, separately at the Jones School at Rice University, at Baylor University, at Texas State University and at the Texas Business Hall of Fame for military veterans.
Steven is a retired Lieutenant General in the U.S. Marine Corps with 41 years of active duty experience under his belt. He has worked with service members on active duty and in transition, providing guidance to veterans so they can reach their goals and feel connected to their new life in the civilian world. As a Combined Arms Board Member, he provides strategic insight and a veteran-service perspective to ensure the organization is able to help transitioning veterans access the resources and support they need.
David brings 35 years of oil and gas industry experience to the Combined Arms board, helping to align the organization with partners throughout the Houston area who can support veterans with funds, resources and career opportunities. He provides fundraising and positioning expertise, as well as the perspective of a civilian voice helping the board see how to best reach those in the community.
Though not a veteran herself, Kelsey strives to give back to those who have served by acting as head of Combined Arms' Marketing and Branding Committee. Kelsey uses her communication skills and experience as the organization's Brand Manager at The Black Sheep Agency to accelerate the mission of Combined Arms and work towards its top-line brand goals. Her committed efforts have helped the organization serve as a transitioning force to hardworking and determined veterans who want to make a bigger impact in their community.
Jerry Lasco began his restaurant career in 2003 opening The Tasting Room in Houston, Texas. Today, Jerry is the Founder and CEO of Lasco Enterprises, which owns and operates 7 restaurants in Texas under the brands The Tasting Room Wine Cafe's Wine Dive and Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden. Over the years Lasco Enterprises has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas, The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, Houston's Top Workplaces, and Best Places to Work in San Antonio. In 2014, Jerry was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for the Gulf Coast States. The company is committed to giving back to its community and strongly supports local charities and community organizations, including GenesysWorks, JDRF and Combined Arms.
Jerry graduated from the US Air Force Academy and spent 13 years as a pilot with the Air Force and then Continental Airlines. Before moving to Houston in 2001, he lived in New York City where he attended Peter Kump's Cooking School and pursued a sommelier certification with The Court of Master Sommeliers. Jerry lives in Houston with his wife, Laura and their two boys, Max and Jack.
Brooks Ballard is an experienced leader with success as a real estate professional and leader committed to developing business relationships within the Houston community. Over 28 years in industry experience, including a board membership, attest to his capacity to serve an organization. Nominated personally by the Mayor of Houston for three separate appointments, Mr. Ballard is a ten-year veteran of the Citizen Review Committee Board of the Houston Police Department for the City of Houston. Through this leadership position Mr. Ballard brought positive changes to the department, supporting the Mayor's efforts to connect communities with law enforcement.
As a veteran of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, Brian understands the challenges returning service members face and is passionate about supporting veterans transitioning from service to civilian life. As a Board Member focusing on Business Development and Fundraising, he helps Combined Arms stay operationally and strategically aligned to make sure that itźĺs around to serve veterans for decades to come.
Bill Pritchett is an associate attorney with the corporate group in the Houston office of Paul Hastings LLP and focuses on mergers & acquisitions and private equity. Bill graduated from the United States Naval Academy and was subsequently designated a Naval Aviator. He deployed to Southeast Asia in 2005 and flew missions in the P-3C Orion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines. He later became a primary flight instructor in the T-34C Turbomentor. He is also an active member of the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association Texas Gulf Coast Chapter.
David Ulrey serves as a manager of corporate development with National Oilwell Varco (NOV) in Houston, assisting NOV with mergers, acquisitions, and corporate planning. Prior to joining NOV, David was an energy investment banker with Simmons & Company International, focused on mergers, acquisitions, and capital markets transactions in the oilfield services sector. David served for five years as a financial management officer in the U.S. Army, during which time he deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and was stationed at the U.S. Army Garrison Italy in Vicenza and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.