Fort Bend County partners with Combined Arms to connect local veterans with resources

Fort Bend County and Combined Arms representatives signed an agreement to partner. Standing, from left, Kevin Doffing (Chief Operating Officer, Combined Arms), Jiten Agarwal (board member, Combined Arms), Robert Pechukas (Precinct 3 Policy and Administration manager), Ernest Spann (Deputy Director, Fort Bend County Veterans Services), Dwight Marshall (Director, Fort Bend County Veterans Services), Ken DeMerchant (Precinct 4 Commissioner)  and Andy Meyers (Precinct 3 commissioner. Sitting, Judge KP George and Laura Richard (county clerk).

Fort Bend County and Combined Arms representatives signed an agreement to partner. Standing, from left, Kevin Doffing (Chief Operating Officer, Combined Arms), Jiten Agarwal (board member, Combined Arms), Robert Pechukas (Precinct 3 Policy and Administration manager), Ernest Spann (Deputy Director, Fort Bend County Veterans Services), Dwight Marshall (Director, Fort Bend County Veterans Services), Ken DeMerchant (Precinct 4 Commissioner) and Andy Meyers (Precinct 3 commissioner. Sitting, Judge KP George and Laura Richard (county clerk).

A new partnership in Fort Bend County could make it easier for veterans to connect with local services.

Fort Bend County and nonprofit Combined Arms signed a memorandum of understanding agreement on March 25 allowing the county to use the nonprofit’s software to connect veterans to any resources needed from 47 other Houston area organizations.

Additionally, this software will allow the county and the nonprofit to track demographics about veterans to help understand and better serve their needs, county Judge KP George and Combined Arms COO Kevin Doffing said in a press release, at the March 25 Fort Bend Commissioners Court meeting and in interviews.

“[The agreement provides] a new, data-driven approach in providing even more services in an effective, efficient and more engaging way,” George said in the release. “As we expand our network in providing our veterans with more jobs, mental health support, housing options and a whole host of additional resources, we will be able to track every metric and act accordingly.”

When a veteran comes to the county’s Veterans Service Office, he or she will answer a series of online questions to identify any housing, educational, employment, health care and other needs, Doffing said in an interview. Then, both the veteran and the appropriate organizations will receive notifications on how to connect to get those needs fulfilled.

“I’m very excited [about the software],” said Fort Bend County Services Officer Dwight Marshall in an interview. “It will give veterans more access to employment and rental assistance. There are so many organizations out there that can assist them, and this platform will help connect them.”

The nonprofit is providing this software to the county for free, saving the county and taxpayers about $400,000 in software development costs and about $100,000 annually for software maintenance, Doffing said at the meeting.

He and Combined Arms board member Jiten Agarwal said in interviews the nonprofit is providing this software cost-free to the county because the organization wants to expand outreach and resources to veterans.

There are about 300,000 veterans in the Greater Houston area, of which about 2,700 reside in Fort Bend County, Doffing said at the meeting. Only a couple hundred Fort Bend County veterans have a profile with Combined Arms’ software, Doffing said. By partnering with the county, the nonprofit can connect even more local veterans to the Greater Houston area veteran community, he said.

“For decades we’ve been reactive—we’ve just been reacting to contact instead of relying on predictive analysis, big data and disrupting our market,” Doffing said at the meeting. “By the county utilizing our system that already has 4,000 profiles [in the Greater Houston area], we’re going to expand our data-predictive analysis so we can start driving solutions to the problems before they occur.”

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct a minor spelling error. 
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. She covers education, transportation, local government, business and development in the Katy area.


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