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Military Veterans Resource Center

Nonprofit's mission: Help veterans find jobs

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It's a new name but the same mission for a Northland-based nonprofit organization that seeks to help veterans find jobs.

"We picked up the pieces and moved on," Len Proper, executive director of the Military Veterans Resource Center, 1395 E. Dublin-Granville Road, said.

There was plenty to pick up and move on from under the old name of AMVETS Career Center after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in April 2013 that an investigation by his office uncovered "the misappropriation of millions in charitable funds held by the three AMVETS organizations for the benefit of unemployed veterans, veterans in need of career training, ROTC programs, veterans scholarships, veterans hospitals and homeless veterans," a statement released at the time said.

The investigation found that money raised by AMVETS Career Center for 59 satellite operations around the state was being used at these outposts for purposes other than helping servicemen and -women find jobs.

Columbus City Councilman Hearcel F. Craig was among those asked to serve on the board in the wake of the scandal.

The Military Veterans Resource Center has since split off as an independent nonprofit organization, Proper said.

The goal of finding work for veterans remains the same, he added.

"What has changed is our process for doing it," Proper said. "We've become much more personal, so what we do now is assign what the military refers to as a 'battle buddy.' "

That job counselor will remain with the individual veteran until he or she finds employment, Proper added.

"Our goal is to help those who have faithfully served our nation find gainful employment," he said in a prepared statement. "We believe the best way to do this is by providing services that fit each individual's career needs."

This includes helping veterans overcome physical injuries, mental-health problems, transportation barriers and other obstacles that make it difficult for them to translate their military skills and experience into the civilian workforce, he said in an interview.

Career specialists operate out of six resource centers throughout the state, including the headquarters in Columbus, Chillicothe, Findlay, Dayton, Hamilton and Springfield.

"We go where the veterans are," Proper said.

The specialists offer career assessment, licensing and certification assistance, resume-writing help, interview coaching, job placement, professional clothing services, skills training and more, according to the announcement from the now-independent organization.

"We try to help employers understand just what a veteran brings," Proper said.

That's not always easy for a civilian to discern, especially from someone who "speaks military, writes military, acts military," he added.

"We try to help them relax a little bit ... so that when they get an interview, they act like a human being," Proper said.

The success of the new, more individualized approach has been "outstanding," he said.

"We've been real successful in helping these veterans put their lives together, get them back on track and into the workforce," Proper said. "Now we have employers calling us all the time. It speaks to the commitment on their part but also speaks to the quality of the veteran coming home and their preparation. It seems to be working very, very well. We see a lot of employers now who seem very happy to hire veterans.

"We're grateful that we're able to survive, grateful we could keep our funding and bring in some new people who can help our veterans. We're off and running."

For more information call 614-230-0662 or visit milvetsrc.org.

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