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Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Highlights Veterans Integration Program

Jul 16, 2018 Back

(Houston, Texas) – Transitioning back into the community and the workforce can sometimes be challenging for military veterans, especially for wounded service members. Since 2014, the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) has been collaborating with the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program in Houston to provide military personnel that are transitioning out of the military an opportunity to broaden their skills and learn about the role of local government in public safety through the Veterans Integration Program (VIP).

“This internship program provides Veterans an opportunity to explore their career options,” said Harris County Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan. “Most VIP interns have the skills and experiences that fit well in our area of work – like leadership, teamwork and problem solving.”

The 12-week internship program offers invaluable training and networking opportunities, including:            

  • Incident Command System/Emergency Management training
  • Participating in Functional Needs and Support Services planning meetings and exercises
  • Reviewing emergency plans
  • Assisting with Emergency Operation Center activations
  • Attending Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) training
  • Serving as a liaison between HCOHSEM and disability advocacy groups
  • Adding experience to personal resume
  • Practicing for interviews

“I enjoyed the process and the program which helped me secure a full-time position at HCOHSEM,” said Earl Smith. “I feel great about teaching disaster skills that help make our communities more resilient.”

Smith, a U.S. Army veteran, has been with HCOHSEM since 2014. Currently, he is the Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) coordinator working with numerous schools in Harris County to offer CERT training in their curriculum.

The VA’s VIP offers Veterans a chance to explore diverse career opportunities, and HCOHSEM is proud to be a partner.


Earl Smith during Teen CERT training and final exercise at the Harris County Fire & Sheriff’s Training Academy.

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