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New partnership at Garland ISD helps veterans find new careers

New partnership helps veterans find new careers
New partnership helps veterans find new careers 03:13

GARLAND, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - With the new school year quickly approaching, educators across the state are struggling to solve a post pandemic math problem: too many retirees, and not enough replacements.

"It has been a huge challenge, post pandemic," said Brent Ringo, Garland ISD's chief financial officer. He also oversees human resources and hiring. "The typical pathways - the numbers are not there to meet that need - so we're having to think outside the box."

Now, Garland ISD is the first in North Texas to partner with a non-profit that's looking to help military veterans and gold star families transition to another type of service... in schools.  

It's called 'Soldiers to Sidelines' - and their mission is to do just that: help soldiers get the training, credentialing and even the networking needed to build post military careers, in coaching.

"We have people here from Texas, California, Washington," said Ringo of the veterans gathering for workshops, seminars, and potential job opportunities. "We are hoping we get somebody hired today."

Glenn Pilarowski served his country as a combat medic. But he's spent the past few years teaching special education and working as an offensive line coach in the East Texas town of Marshall. And he's a big fan of Soldiers to Sidelines.

"I think it's amazing - even if you didn't have any athletic background in the past, just to find a purpose to work with the youth and give them guidance in the community and leadership and growth...because that's what it's all about."

That, and continuing to learn and grow.

"They've helped me meet a lot of people," said Pilarowski. "They've taught me things about myself - taught me how to be an even better leader than the army did."

Still, supporters say these veterans looking to become coaches bring with them important life skills.

"We all know that all service members coach, teach and mentor at various levels," said Will Huff with Soldiers to Sidelines, "So the inherent skills are there."

Huff's own military journey has taken him from the football field at West Point to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the retired army colonel says he finds inspiration fighting for veterans as they transition to civilian lives - all while reminding us that a lack of purpose can often be lethal. He recalls an encounter from his early years with the organization.

"I reached out to some of our soldier gain a better understanding. The third individual I spoke with told me something that inspires me to this day. He told me: 'if not for the team waiting for me that afternoon, I would have stuck a pistol in my mouth'. So, when we talk about life and death type impact...that's the kind of inspiration that I get from our soldier coaches."

And these former soldiers with a history of service, say learning to coach helps them feel right at home.

"Camaraderie. Structure. And discipline," says Pilarowski. "[It's] an awesome fit."

Find more information about Soldiers to Sidelines here.

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