Washington, D.C. – Growing up, Shalimar Cabrera never envisioned herself presenting before U.S. Senators as the leader of two sites of the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk veterans. “Most people don’t know I used to be very shy and quiet, as my parents could tell you,” said Cabrera. “Now, I love to meet new people, discuss veterans’ issues, and speak to crowds of large sizes.”
Cabrera sought out to do something to make a difference in her community and joined the United States Veterans Initiative in Las Vegas (U.S. VETS–LAS VEGAS) eleven years ago as an Outreach Specialist. “It was my responsibility to find homeless veterans on the streets and in shelters or soup kitchens, and other places, to let them know about our services, and help them with the process of abandoning homelessness and coming into the housing programs we offer,” said Cabrera. While serving as an Outreach Specialist, Cabrera earned her Master’s in Social Work Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was promptly promoted to the National AmeriCorps Director for the U.S. VETS program. Recently, she was appointed as the Acting Executive Director for the U.S. VETS – Washington, D.C. site.
Cabrera is currently tasked with overseeing ten U.S. VETS AmeriCorps programs, serving more than 10,000 homeless veterans each year. Last week, at the request of Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), she shared the work of her organization and its commitment to enhancing the lives of veterans during their transition from active duty with Senate Democrats and other leaders from across the country. “I was very honored and humbled to participate in this discussion,” said Cabrera. “Senator Reid has been an avid supporter of our veteran programs for years. He has supported us in our efforts to operate the Homeless Veteran Reintegration program which has been instrumental to us placing thousands of veterans into employment over the years.”
Senator Reid added, “No veteran should ever find themselves out of work, homeless, or struggling. And I am thankful to Shalimar Cabrera for traveling to Washington to discuss ways the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen veteran’s programs that ensure a successful transition to civilian employment. I look forward to working with her, and other organizations that continue to assist our nation’s heroes in need.”
The discussion focused on initiatives to expand career opportunities for veterans. “Many of the guests at the meeting emphasized the need for employers and the community to recognize the challenges veterans face when transitioning to civilian life,” commented Cabrera. “I was reminded that we must help veterans prepare for the workforce. There were a lot of lessons I will take back to Nevada from this meeting, and it was a reminder of the need for more workforce development programs that can help veterans bridge the military/civilian divide.”