Fort Worth veteran to receive national Goodwill award May 19, 2014
In March 2008, Robbie Green was getting his hair cut by a friend when he began to feel ill and dizzy.
He stood up to get some air, fell over and hit his head on a chair, then went into convulsions.
“The next thing I know they were picking me up off the floor,” Green said.
At the hospital, a paralyzed Green was told he’d never walk, drive, work or live alone again. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Green transferred to the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Dallas, where with help from the nurses and staff – and with his own grit, determination and drive – he slowly recovered some movement in his legs. After four months at the VA, he was released to his own apartment.
“I was given a second chance,” Green, 55, said. “They told me I couldn’t do something and I told them I could. I challenged them and they challenged me. So far I’m winning. I get up every day. I live on my own. I work, drive and do everything a normal person does so I think I’m winning.”
Once he was living on his own, Green needed a job. A native of East Texas and a resident of Fort Worth since 1981, Green went to Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth Inc., where he was trained at refurbishing computers donated to the agency. He’s worked in Goodwill’s computer works division for more than two years.
“I needed to do something before I went crazy,” the veteran said. “I’m indebted to Goodwill for giving me an opportunity. They gave me a fresh start on life.”
Green works at Goodwill three days a week. The other two days, after his therapy sessions, he volunteers at the VA hospital in Fort Worth, encouraging other veterans with disabilities. In his spare time, Green trains and competes in the National Veteran Wheelchair Games. To date, he’s won 19 medals: eight gold, eight silver and three bronze.
“We are so proud of Robbie and all of his accomplishments,” said David Cox, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth. “Robbie could have easily given up and let his disability hold him back from life, but instead he has become a true inspiration to all of us here at Goodwill. He embodies the mission of Goodwill Fort Worth and sets the bar high for anyone who works here.”
Green will be honored with the 2014 Achiever of the Year Award during Goodwill’s annual Delegate Assembly meeting in Austin in June. The award is presented to a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or received services to support employment at a community site.
When asked about the honor, Green said, “It makes me feel kind of special.”
Goodwill expands career services for veterans
Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth Inc. and the Wal-Mart Foundation announced in March that they are expanding a program that helps veterans like Robbie Green and their families find jobs and gain financial stability.
The Wal-Mart Foundation’s gift of a $5 million, three-year grant is expected to serve between 300 and 500 veterans and their families in the Fort Worth area and more than 4,000 veterans and military family members nationwide.
Dubbed Operation: GoodJobs, Goodwill’s program offers veterans the training, financial education, credentialing opportunities, retention support and case management resources they need to get back to work. The program is open to veterans, military spouses and adult dependent children ages 18-24.
Through the program, Goodwill Fort Worth provides job placement services, including one-on-one career counseling and employer networking opportunities; job readiness skills training; needs assessments; and referrals for mental health, housing and benefits assistance.
The program focuses on helping women veterans and post-9/11 veterans. According to United Way of Tarrant County, of the 30,586 veterans between 17 and 44 in Tarrant County, 20.5 percent are female, and they are more likely than male veterans to live in poverty.
Post-9/11 veterans have an unemployment rate as high as 10 percent, 3.1 percent higher than the national average, Goodwill said.
“Goodwill is dedicated to offering a hand up, not a handout. We strive to help our veterans get back into the competitive workforce by offering the assistance and training they may need,” Cox said. “One example is Operation: GoodJobs. We also employ a number of veterans within our agency. We are committed to helping those who have served our country proudly and giving back to those who have given so much of themselves.”
By the numbers
Veterans represent 8.3 percent (121,419) of Tarrant County’s population.
About 10 percent (12,297) are age 18-34, about one-third are age 35-54, and 57 percent are over 55.
One in six of these Tarrant County veterans have a service-related disability that affects their employability.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website estimates that in Tarrant County there are 30,586 younger veterans between ages 17-44, of whom 6,259 (20.5 percent) are females.
In Tarrant County, a higher percentage of veterans of all ages are women (11.6 percent) than nationally (8 percent) and than in Texas overall (10.7 percent).
Source: 2013 Veterans Fund: A Rapid Analysis of the Needs and Gaps in Services for Returning Veterans, United Way of Tarrant County Inc.