Connection: Linking Dayton-area veterans with their future employers

Published: Monday, March 21, 2016 @ 11:00 AM
Updated: Monday, March 21, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

            Heath McNaughton, top, is now a program director and instructor at Hobart Services. (Photo provided by Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley)
Heath McNaughton, top, is now a program director and instructor at Hobart Services. (Photo provided by Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley)

Last May, after serving his country for 13 years in the United States Air Force, technical sergeant Heath McNaughton was re-entering the civilian workforce. Armed with two associate and a bachelor's degree he'd earned while serving, he was feeling quite optimistic about his post military professional life.

Then reality set in.

McNaughton discovered what many of his fellow veterans had upon returning to civilian workforce – lots of things change when there's a decade or more between job interviews.

"The job market was a totally different beast from what I'd remembered," said McNaughton.

"I know what I'm good at, but understanding how that translates to the civilian workforce was tough."

Enter Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley

Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley (GESMV) noticed a disturbing statistic – unemployment for veterans in Ohio, especially post-9/11 veterans, was higher than the national average. Yet according to the Society of Human Resource Management, 88% of employers had no idea how to reach those unemployed veterans.

What if there was a way to connect employers with unemployed veterans?

The Veterans & Employers Connection or simply, "the Connection" is a partnership between employers, support service providers and community organizations working together toward a common goal: the long-term, meaningful employment of veterans in the Miami Valley area.

"Since the Connection started, we've had nearly 400 veterans walk through our doors," said Daniel M. Semsel, director of Veteran Employment Services and a retired Air Force colonel formerly stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Helping veterans to discover how their military skills will translate best into the civilian workforce is one of Semsel's biggest challenges. Another is helping veterans to have a more realistic expectation when it comes to type of job they may likely get.

He explained "You could be captain so-and-so in the military, but then you enter the civilian workforce, and you're working an entry-level HR job. That's often tough for veterans to understand."

How does the Connection help veterans find employment?

The starting point is obvious -- helping the veteran update his or her resume -- then comes a preparatory interview to gain a clear understanding of the veteran's background, skill set and interests. Semsel then reaches out to employers in the Connection's network who are looking to fill positions for which the veteran might be a good fit. Companies currently in the Connection's network include smaller organizations like HR Machine in Moraine, to larger corporations such as Kroger, Lowes and Cintas.

Semsel also helps employers to understand the many valuable "soft skills" that veterans bring to the workplace.

"Veterans bring skills to the table that you wouldn't necessarily put on a resume," he said. "Things like discipline, leadership, communication, and problem-solving."

In Heath McNaughton's case, it was a matter of helping him to take what he knew and capitalize on it.

"Heath realized he had a lot of things to bring to the table with his HR background. He took it and ran with it," said Semsel.

McNaughton now works at Hobart Service as a program director and instructor.

"Dan goes above and beyond," said McNaughton. "He recommended upwards of ten different jobs to me. Being plugged into different people in the community can be priceless."

In support of the Connection, GESMV will host the annual Empowering Independence Concert on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at Fraze Pavilion. The concert, which will feature award-winning music acts, honors veterans and Connection program participants.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Chilly night ahead of sunny Sunday

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 5:14 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 11:25 PM

Sunshine returns Sunday in the Dayton area, with the chance for rain and snow returning later in the week.

Clouds decrease overnight. It’ll be cold with temperatures dropping into the middle 20s, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said.


  • Slick spots possible overnight
  • More sunshine on Sunday
  • Rain/snow chances return late Monday/early Tuesday

>> Live Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs


Sunday: Sunshine returns under milder conditions. Highs will be in the lower 50s.

>>5-Day Forecast

Monday: Clouds will increase through the day with highs in the lower to middle 50s. The chance for rain returns in the evening, and with temperatures falling past sunset, a few wet flakes may mix in as well.

>> WHIO Weather App

Tuesday: A few lingering snow showers or a wintry mix will be possible early. Mostly cloudy skies are expected with highs in the lower to middle 40s.

>>What is freezing rain and how is it different from snow and sleet?

Wednesday: The chance for any snow looks small, but can’t be ruled out. It’ll be a cold day with highs in the upper 30s.

Thursday: Partly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower 40s.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Vietnam veterans honored in McCartyville St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 10:23 PM


In the tiny Irish crossroads of McCartyville in Shelby County this afternoon, veterans from the Vietnam-era were honored on this St. Patrick’s Day.

About 50 vets were the grand marshals of the community parade.

Today was the 35th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, founded in 1984.

In case you never heard of McCartyville, it’s located between Anna and Minster where state Routes 29 and 119 intersect in the center of town.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

Trending - Most Read Stories

Civil rights attorney, former national parks leader named trailblazers

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:30 PM

Benjamin L. Crump
Benjamin L. Crump

A civil rights lawyer and a former National Parks Service superintendent were the first to receive the Trailblazer Awards from the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument, officials said.

Benjamin L. Crump, a civil rights lawyer, and Robert G. Stanton, former NPS leader, were presented the awards Thursday on the 154th birthday of Young.

Crump has been an advocate for the “marginalized in our country” and represented the families of shooting victims Trayvon Martin and Robbie Tolan, among others, his website says.

RELATED: Wilberforce’s Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers to become national monument

Crump, a Time magazine contributor, was the first African-American president of the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Florida and first African-American chairman of the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors.

“‘As we all know, trailblazers are people who create a road or a trail where there isn’t one so he has been instrumental supporting people who’s civil rights have been violated,” said Joy Kinard, superintendent of the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument. “He has been able to raise an awareness in the millennial community this next generation, to have an interest in knowing how important civil rights are.”

Stanton was the first African-American leader of the National Park Service, and served during the Clinton administration. He was also a senior adviser on historic preservation to the Department of the Interior.

He was selected because of his work in historic preservation and expanding the national parks narrative to include diverse people, Kinard said.

“He was the first African-American to be a superintendent of a national park after Col. Charles Young was,” she said.

Col. Young was the first African-American to reach the rank of colonel in the Army and was a pioneer for equality for African American soldiers. The West Point graduate fought in the Philippine-American war and was the first African-American superintendent of a national park – Sequoia in northern California, among other career milestones.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Apartment fire sends woman to hospital, displaces 6 units in Harrison Twp.

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:19 PM

Apt fire

An apartment fire this evening displaced the occupants of six units and sent one woman to a local hospital.

Crews were called shortly before 5 p.m. to 1962 Republic Drive on a report of heavy smoke coming from an apartment.

>> Flames consume vacant house in Piqua

The woman was taken to Miami Valley Hospital; her injuries are minor, according to Harrison Twp. fire officials.

The American Red Cross was called to assist residents in six units who were displaced.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

Trending - Most Read Stories