Initiative connects Ohio vets with career opportunities

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Dellinger, retired (front left); U.S. Army Capt. Casey Wolfe (front right); U.S. Marine Corps Capt. John Urquhart, retired (back left); and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. James Wright, retired (back right), receive a warm welcome en route to International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 1. Dellinger, Wolfe, Urquhart, and Wright visited ISAF Headquarters during one of their many stops in Afghanistan as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program that allows wounded warriors the opportunity to leave the war zone on their own terms. (

COLUMBUS – An estimated 90,000 post-9/11 veterans live in Ohio, a number that’s expected to rise as more return home. Experts say they face a multitude of challenges, including an economy with limited job openings.

The director of the Veterans Affair’s Office of Transition, Employment and Economic Impact, Rosye Cloud, says veterans are leaving the military trained and ready for work and once they are connected to employment, they persist and achieve. But she says getting that first job can be tough.

“When you have 99 percent of the country that hasn’t served, it may be a little bit more difficult to understand the type of service and the type of opportunities and work that our men and women have experienced during their service,” she says.

The VA has launched a Veterans Economic Communities Initiative in Cincinnati and two dozen other cities to help veterans gain competitive career skills in local fields where workers are in demand.

Cloud says the VA partners with businesses, educators, community organizations and others to connect veterans and their families to education and employment opportunities in their area.

She says the initiative is based on collaboration at the local level.

“The VA is coming into these communities to not only learn about the great work that’s already happening, but to also ensure that the lines of communication are flowing so that any federal programs, benefits, services and partnerships are made available to everybody at the community level,” says Cloud.

The Veterans Economic Communities Initiative is expected to add 25 more cities in coming months. Cloud says the first communities were selected based on unemployment, job opportunities, education spending and post-9/11 veteran populations.