The Dayton region is no stranger to a strong and robust community of veterans and veteran-owned companies.
The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the largest single-site employer in Ohio with over 29,000 workers. Its total economic impact on the region is $15.6 billion each year — when you include indirect and induced impacts such as the defense contracting community and other businesses that support those 29,000 workers.
The Dayton VA Medical Center also plays a large part in supporting the region's diverse veteran population. And that includes helping to find them employment.
The Dayton VA's vocational rehabilitation program includes employment support services such as building resumes and interview skills, counseling and motivational interviewing to determine what field of work interests the veteran.
"There are not a lot of employers out there that aren't veteran supportive," said Kevin Fields, supervisory, vocational, rehabilitation counselor at the Dayton VA. "The response from employers has been so positive."
Fields said many of the veterans he serves look for jobs in logistics and security. The medical center helps around 400 veterans each year find jobs.
"We believe veterans have a unique perspective based on their service," Fields said. "They are more fulfilled knowing how they can impact and help. A lot of veterans want to do something that makes a difference and helps people."
Fields said he typically works with veterans in the 50-plus age group, but the VA network serves anyone with a veteran status that was honorably discharged.
"It comes down to attitude; employers are interested in a good attitude," Fields said. "We take an individualized job approach with each veteran."
Fields said his office meets with employers regularly to find workforce solutions for them. He also helps to close the gap on barriers veterans face such as transportation and physical or mental disabilities.
Another program the VA uses to help veterans is its transitional work model. It mostly serves veterans who have gaps in their job history. Those veterans are paid a stipend to complete work around the Dayton VA for the housekeeping or grounds staff.
"To get in the swing of things again," Fields said.
Nationally, the VA system offers vocational readiness and employment programs. Veterans can apply online to get financial help earning new certifications, degrees or apprenticeships.