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Program connects Miami Valley veterans with civilian jobs

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 7:36 AM

If you value your freedom, thank a veteran. American freedom comes with a price that millions of military personnel and veterans have paid serving our country. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were about 22 million veterans living in the United States as of 2014. 

This Veterans Day Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley and some local businesses are doing more than just thanking veterans.  

Together with veteran support agencies in the Miami Valley and local employers, Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley has formed the Veterans and Employers Connection, a collaborative partnership founded in 2014 to assist with the successful employment of veterans in the civilian workforce. With a goal to place 5000 veterans in meaningful and gainful employment by 2020, The Connection is well on its way. 

“At the end of our inaugural year, we had 30 member employers on board and had helped place 103 veterans in jobs,” said Roger Baldridge, vice president of business services for Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley. 

Today, The Connection is 78 members strong and has successfully placed over 1600 veterans in jobs. 

“The military teaches veterans a lot of great skill sets that employers really want, such as a strong work ethic, the ability to work effectively as part of a team, and having a passion and dedication to achieving a mission,” said Lance Detrick, president of Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley. “However, we know that, for a variety of reasons, veterans sometimes struggle to successfully reenter the civilian workforce.” 

The Veterans and Employer Connection provides assistance with resumes and offers interview coaching and preparation for veterans seeking employment. An important part of this process is helping veterans translate military skills and language into the civilian work environment.  

Through the partnership, employers committed to hiring veterans have access to a pool of veterans with diverse skills.  

Larry Nash knows the benefits of The Connection firsthand. A former Marine and field radio operator, Nash moved back to Dayton to take care of his ailing father and needed some support to get back into the workforce.  

With the help of The Connection, Nash landed a job as a janitor with Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, cleaning buildings through a contract for the county.

“I’m most impressed with the closeness of employees,” Nash said about his current position. “It’s more like a work family, than a work opportunity.” 

Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley is no stranger to the benefits of providing meaningful employment locally to people in need. In fact, as part of its mission of helping people with disabilities and other needs to become independent, GESMV employs 586 people with disabilities and 83 veterans throughout a workforce that’s more than a thousand strong. 

Crown Equipment Corporation also knows that veterans make great employees. Worldwide, Crown employs over 600 veterans, 26 of whom are employed right here in the Miami Valley. The Connection honored Crown as member of the year for employing twice as many veterans as any other connection member.   

“We’ve had a lot of growth,” said Randy Niekamp, vice president of human resources for Crown Equipment Corporation, with regards to how they have been so successful with placing so many veterans in positions. “We’ve really had success transitioning well from military bases.”  

“Veterans make great employees,” he added. “They are dedicated, and they have great leadership and technical skills.” 

If you are a local employer looking to support veterans, consider becoming a member of The Connection. If you’ve never hired a veteran, you can learn more and receive support as you help a veteran get back to work after their service.  

The Veterans and Employers Connection provides free assistance to veterans in need of employment. Join GESMV, The Connection and their commitment to helping anyone who has officially worn the uniform, regardless of length of service, category of discharge or any other employment barrier.  

With your help, even more veterans can have access to services to help them get a job right here in your community when you donate securely online at