An organization that specializes in residential development is using its workforce training program to prepare veterans for transition into a challenging economy.
Rehab Warriors, the nation’s first and only certified and accredited workforce development model specializing in residential development, according to a press release, provides veterans with post-service education, career readiness, and civic leadership. The company also addresses veteran transition, affordable housing, and community revitalization. Its founder says its model addresses veteran employment and the current housing crisis.
“I wanted a for-profit model for purpose and wanted to make sure that there was unrestricted pathways to the veterans to get into what I believe is the best way to transition, which is going back home, taking one property at a time, and restoring it,” said Andy Williams, a Marine veteran and founder of Rehab Warriors. “And then being a part of a bigger solution, which is America needs housing.”
Williams’ company is a national vertically integrated real estate enterprise, undertaking full-scale community revitalization projects that target social impact. It also offers veterans a viable career path.
He said programs designed to transition service members from the military to civilian self-sufficiency often fall short or are incomplete.
“Well, despite all the outreach and hiring initiatives, veterans need two things: They need purpose after service, and they need profitability and pathways,” Williams said.
Rehab Warriors has performed more than 100 house rehabilitations and 100 home builds with veterans, who are provided unrestricted pathways to partner with a city and facilitate community development.
“We’ve done that a hundred times, and we’re going to do it 10,000 times as we rebuild this community right across America,” Williams said.
Williams used real estate as a re-acclimatization bridge after serving four years in the Marines and six years with the international security firm Blackwater. The Texas native eventually became the host of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop Fort Worth,” which aired for one season (2018). Williams soon realized that flipping homes wasn’t his mission.
“HGTV is not really who I am, or HGTV was lucky to have us,” he said. “We have a good relationship with them.”
The genesis of Rehab Warriors began after the HGTV program, when Williams invested $1 million in a research initiative to study veterans. He wanted to figure out what was limiting them.
“We met good people, we met bad people,” he said. “Not everybody that says they want to help veterans wants to help veterans. Not everybody that says they want to empower veterans, they want to empower veterans. And transitioning [for] veterans is really hard. It’s not easy because veterans are putting their guns down, and they’re taking their uniforms off and they’re having to find identity.”
Williams said he placed some at-risk capital into the situation, bet on the community, garnered some market share and enabled veterans to break through the limitations.
The Rehab Warriors program includes a six-week career school, an apprenticeship and/or self-employment option.
Marine veteran Jerry Tello had become accustomed to a fast-paced career within the military, constantly deploying or training for deployment. His responsibility was to build solid teams and oversee them.
“And so, once I realized I could do that, I could do that with anything,” the 26-year-old Tello said. “I decided to make the transition out.”
But his transition wasn’t so easy. He moved from California to Texas, tried to buy a home and was searching for an identity.
“I was having a rough time transitioning because as you’re transitioning out, obviously, you don’t have that stability anymore,” Tello said. “I was trying to do all everything at once, basically, and then that didn’t bode well.”
Then Tello met Williams, and things changed. A path was set for him.
“So Jerry came in, went through the six weeks training, shadowed under a couple projects, launched works. Now Jerry is doing projects, deal analysis, and he’s gotten cross-trained as an agent.”
Tello’s goal isn’t to rehab homes or build them. It’s to develop land containing vast swaths of dwellings. He credits Rehab Warriors for furnishing a direction with purpose and unlimited potential.
“And because of that, JT Works was born,” Tello said. “And now I’m doing anything I can to help support this mission and spread the word that Rehab Warriors can change lives and better yet, communities.”
Rehab Warriors is about the veteran, Williams said. It only works because of the veteran.
“And so, Rehab Warriors was designed to be self-sufficient or self-sustained or self-sabotaging. If veterans don’t sign up and get trained to rebuild communities, it won’t survive. Because I don’t want it to survive if they don’t want to do that. But if they do, it will thrive.”