Austin Veteran Using His Military Experience to Lead at Goodwill

Jason Stewart, Vice President, Commercial Services, at Goodwill Central Texas, didn’t always know that his calling was to lead and serve others. In 1995, Stewart enlisted in the U.S. Army at 19 years old, hoping to find direction and purpose in his life. Over the next 20 years, his career in the military helped him find that purpose and transformed him into the person—and leader—that he is today. He still utilizes the lessons he learned in the U.S. Army to help lead his team, support Goodwill’s mission, and serve our community.

Stewart was approached by Goodwill in 2015 to help support recruiting for the nonprofit’s veterans’ program as he approached his own military retirement. Goodwill was struggling to attract veterans at the time and knew Stewart could help! “When I joined the military, I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and that’s what I like about Goodwill. It’s still about genuine service and I was able to continue being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Stewart.

As a leader of the veterans’ program, he helps former service members transition back to daily life outside the military. Goodwill’s veteran’s program is also supported by a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance, which helps the nonprofit provide support programs and employment for local veterans.

When veterans transition into civilian life, they can face several challenges, including obtaining stable employment, building a career, and receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental and physical disabilities. That’s where leaders like Stewart come into play.

Having someone with Stewart’s background and military experience at the helm provides knowledge and understanding of what other veterans may be experiencing after their service careers end. “A lot of people in the military don’t like the same routine, day-to-day grind of most office jobs; we tend to like a little chaos in our life,” Stewart said. “When things are too much the same, we get bored quickly. I think a little chaos fuels a lot of veterans. We’re so used to dealing with different adversity every day. It’s ingrained in us. It helps us transition better and allows us to use our skills as expert problem solvers. I think some of the finest leaders out there have had military service, and it’s because of what that environment instilled in us and the nature of what life in the military is like.”

Stewart’s leadership and experience in the U.S. Army have been instrumental to Goodwill’s continued service for local veterans and others facing barriers to employment and education. In addition to his work with the organization, Stewart is continuing to further his education and is working on a doctorate in Business Administration with an expected graduation date of Spring 2023.

If you are or know a veteran who would benefit from the Goodwill program, please email VETERANS@GOODWILLCENTRALTEXAS.ORG