Combined Arms

COVER STORY | By Liz Johnson | Photos by Debi Beauregard | Custom Minds Photography –

Tim Stroud, Colton, Mea Williams and Kevin Doffing.

The Greater Houston Area is home to over 300,000 veterans with over 80,000 being post 9/11 vets. With the large number of veterans needing assistance, support and services in the area, there are several great organizations looking to make a difference and that work together to improve the life of veterans in the Katy area and beyond.

Teaming Up for Veterans

Many veterans returning from service don’t feel as if they still fit into their old lives and require assistance with job placement, networking, education, financial assistance and counseling services. And, some just need a friend to talk to who has been there. Three community leaders working together to make things a bit easier for veterans in the Katy area are Tim Stroud, Mea Williams and Kevin Doffing. The three organizations they support and serve are making a substantial difference for veterans in the Katy area. Their service to our country has continued past their own discharges from their respected military careers, and their services and support to each other and to each of their organizations has led to increased opportunities for veterans in our area, serving as a win for all.

The Connector

Tim Stroud.

Tim Stroud works with Easter Seals in the Houston and Katy area and is a huge proponent of the team building approach. “After serving as a combat medic in the U.S. Army, I saw how unconnected our Veteran Service Organizations were across the nation. I had just gotten home from a deployment to Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom. I knew that others would be following and that they deserved the best our communities could offer them. My mentor, Paul J. Meyer, inspired me to work with veterans from every conflict and war dating back to World War I. He told me to be ‘The Connector’ and not to worry about who got the credit. My goal was to help others even if the recipient never knew who I was. This led me to work with some incredible patriots along the way.”

Serving overseas and helping other countries rebuild their communities was a wakeup call for Stroud. As he transitioned back into a civilian lifestyle, he became involved with several Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), American Legion and Disabled American Veterans organizations.

Easter Seals

Allen Rivas and his service dog Bullet.

One of the organizations Stroud helps be “The Connector” for is Easter Seals.  Easter Seals has a long history of working with various non-profits and volunteer organizations. They work with well over 100 collaborative organizations allowing them to keep costs down and services up. Ninety-two cents of every dollar goes directly to programming because of this. Easter Seal’s Texas Veterans Family Alliance collaborative has 20 plus other organizations servicing veterans and their families.

Stroud has personally benefitted from their services and is actively working to help the Easter Seals organization support our vets.

“After working with veterans and family members for over 10 years, I was blessed to receive a trained service dog through Easter Seals,” said Stroud. “Colton P. Stroud was trained by My Service Dog and went through two years of extensive training so he could benefit me and other veterans.  Not only does he help me with mobility, he can sense when my anxiety goes up. He has a unique ability to seek out those who need his assistance and help them through an episode.”

Grace After Fire

Mea Williams.

Through Stroud’s work with Easter Seals, he has met some great people and has worked to bring them all together for the benefit of the entire community. One organization Stroud works with is Grace After Fire.

Mea Williams, Grace After Fire’s president and chief executive officer, explained their role and mission. “Grace After Fire is dedicated to helping women veterans help themselves by providing the means to gain knowledge, insight and self-renewal. They help guide woman veterans as they re-enter their communities and the workforce and refine their roles for a successful future.”

Herself a Navy veteran, a Marine wife and mother, Williams is proud to say that the team at Grace After Fire, which consists of Army, Navy and Marine Corps veterans, assists roughly 1,000 veterans families each year. “We help women veterans in three main ways. We provide peer support through our peer-to-peer evidence based support program: Table Talk™ Color Me Camo. The second thing we do is provide community resource navigation. Once we identify the current immediate need of a veteran, we connect her to community resources that can provide solutions to her situation. The third service we provide is to host women veteran social networking events throughout the calendar year and veteran family retreats, once in the spring and once in the fall.”

Williams is also advocate of teamwork and the “connector” approach. “When the combined efforts of more than one organization joins forces and assists in a veteran situation, the veteran gets the best overall experience in seeking a solution to their current unmet need. I believe it is almost virtually impossible to move mountains on your own. No one ever arrives or is arriving in life alone. It always takes other people, experiences and moments to make a certain thing happen.”

Providing needs to women veterans and leading a nonprofit organization is no different. “We all need each other to be our best selves as an organization and provide the best service possible,” Williams shared. “When we work together, it benefits the community by assisting in the efforts of keeping one less veteran off of the street, getting one more veteran employed and providing the resources for another veteran family to experience a life as a productive citizen in her home and in her community.”

Lone Star Veterans Association

Kevin Doffing.

Kevin Doffing is the executive director of Lone Star Veterans Association and echos the statements of Williams and Stroud. Lone Star Veterans Association (LSVA) is a community leader in the collaborative approach.

“No organization can do everything,” said Doffing. “We must work together to provide services holistically to our veteran community.” LSVA partners with over 12 organizations to provide a one stop Volunteer Orientation monthly to pool volunteer prospects and teach them about what is going on in veteran services in Houston.

Connie Gray, Ben Mezak, Pierre Mugabo and Simon Gray at the Veterans in Oil and Gas Networking and Fundraiser benefitting the Lone Star Veterans Association.

“There’s a national spotlight on the city right now for the innovative collaborations we’re conducting and the systems we’re implementing,” shared Doffing. “We had 20 volunteers at our last event and nearly 100% in attendance signed up to volunteer with an organization. Many signed up to volunteer with multiple organizations. Getting our best and brightest veterans and civilians engaged in volunteering not only expands the operational bandwidth of our partner non-profits, it brings in opportunities for great role models for veterans in transition or crisis. Working together we have been able to eliminate programmatic redundancies, identify gaps that need new programming and better each other’s programs, which all delivers greater value and services to the veteran community.”

Easter Seals Houston’s Youth Action Council leaders Sebastian Dominguez, Duncan Guinn, Colin Guinn and Bella Garafalo with Norman.

Doffin joined LSVA’s board in 2012 and became the executive director in 2016. “I joined because I never felt like I belonged in the veteran community until I attended the Warrior for Life professional networking luncheon that LSVA has operated monthly for six years. Here was a group of professionals networking to advance their careers. These weren’t the sad veteran stories that all too often are served up; these were strong leaders ready to launch their next career. I’ve been drawn to that positive image of veterans. It’s one I identify with and aspire to be. We need more role models of veterans leading in the greater community, and that’s my goal with LSVA: to create a community of servant leadership that leverages the military experience we all share for the betterment of others.”

Relationship Building Leads to Success for All

Doffing relies on his relationships with others to be successful. “Mea likes to tell me that ‘iron sharpens iron.’ She’s been like my big sister – I call her ‘Big Sis’ – coaching me as I learn more and more every day about the role as an executive director of a non-profit. My background is in running and growing a small business, which is useful experience, but not the same. Our program growth in the past 12 months from three monthly events to 15 is a direct reflection of the impact that her counsel and advice has provided. Often that advice sounds like a lecture as I can be a bit hot-headed or undiplomatic, but that’s why she’s my Big Sis. And Tim Stroud has been a go to resource since I came into this organization. He knows everyone and is everywhere.”

Stroud, Williams and Doffing are proud of what their collective voices have done for veterans in the area. Without the teamwork and partnerships that they have developed, veterans in the Katy and surrounding areas would be underserviced.

Veteran’s Organizations Taking Charge

There are several organizations serving veterans in the Katy area. For more information or to volunteer, please visit the websites below.

Combined Arms features an online portal to multiple veteran’s organizations in the Greater Houston Area. Veterans in need can can connect with the resources of their choice by simply filling out an online profile and stating their immediate need. Visit the online portal at

For community members interested in helping build the veteran community in Katy by volunteering their time, their talent or their treasure, the Lone Star Veterans Association is seeking volunteers. And best of all, civilians can join LSVA! The only requirement is a passion for supporting veterans in the community. Visit

The Katy community can support Grace After Fire in one of three ways:

1. Direct a female veteran in need to the Combined Arms website.
2. Offer support by volunteering skills, expertise or experience during business office hours or during special social events.
3. Support Grace After Fire financially. Your generous contribution connects veterans to available services in the community, keeps veterans off the streets, assists veterans to gain employment and allows veterans access to receive the means to be healthy and whole. Visit

Easter Seals has several volunteer and donation opportunities in the Greater Houston Area.Visit