Military veterans don't always come across too well in conversations with civilians, something that's particularly troublesome when that conversation is an interview for a much-needed job.

Military veterans don't always come across too well in conversations with civilians, something that's particularly troublesome when that conversation is an interview for a much-needed job.

"They sit there like they're across the table from the C.O. (commanding officer)," said Len Proper, program and operations director for the AMVETS Career Center.

The organization, with headquarters on East Dublin-Granville Road, provides free employment, career and training assistance to veterans, active-duty military personnel, the National Guard and Reserve.

Proper said that the first thing AMVETS Career Center workers hear when they talk with employers about the barriers that keep them from hiring veterans is a lack of understanding about how military skills can translate into civilian work.

The second thing is the demeanor of veterans during job interviews, according to Proper.

"Employers have told us that veterans often come across as very stiff and rigid in job interviews," Proper said in a statement announcing formation of the chapter for veterans. "This can turn employers off to them. We want to help vets develop their communication skills so they can land the jobs they want. Creating a Toastmasters Club for veterans will help do just that."

He said last week he's been "thinking about this for a long time. How can we get veterans to relax and be better in interviewing?"

Proper's solution was to form a Toastmasters Club for veterans in Ohio.

According to its website, what would become Toastmasters International was started in the basement of the YMCA in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1924 by one Ralph C. Smedley, director of education there.

"He observed that many of the young patrons needed 'training in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings' and Smedley wanted to help them," according to the history section of the site. "He decided the training format would be similar to a social club. During the early 1900s, the word 'toastmaster' referred to a person who proposed the toasts and introduced the speakers at a banquet. Smedley named his group 'The Toastmasters Club' because he thought it suggested a pleasant, social atmosphere appealing to young men."

Proper said when he broached the idea of establishing a club to help veterans to Toastmasters International officials, they'd never thought of it before but immediately took to the concept.

"They were really excited," Proper said. "They just think this is a novel idea."

Late last week, according to AMVETS Career Center public relations-media specialist Brooke Chavdar, leaders of Toastmasters Clubs in Kentucky and West Virginia contacted Proper about doing something similar for veterans in their states.

The Central Ohio Veterans Toastmasters, which is open to all military veterans, meets every Thursday from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. at AMVETS Career Center's headquarters, 1395 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Suite 205A.

"During meetings, members deliver prepared and impromptu speeches, followed by peer evaluations," according to Chavdar. "Successfully completing 10 speech projects awards an individual the Toastmasters title of Competent Communicator. As members progress through the program, they advance in rank and can ultimately attain the Distinguished Toastmaster award, the highest educational accolade Toastmasters grants."