Humble: the perfect word to describe Jared Smith, a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP) Specialist and OCSEA member at the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). He’s humbled by how fate brought him to serve veterans in the southeastern Ohio counties of Washington, Morgan, Noble and Monroe. He’s humbled by his service to his country and the heroes he served with in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom and in the Global War on Terrorism. And he’s humbled by how his current community of Marietta, his hometown of Mansfield, and Ohio, overall, have embraced his efforts to support and honor veterans and their families.
And it’s Jared’s modest nature that guides his life and keeps him focused on his mission at ODJFS: helping Ohio veterans overcome the significant barriers to employment.
“As a veterans advocate, I have the opportunity to affect a veteran’s life for the positive each and every day,” said Jared, who has worked at ODJFS for almost seven years. “My passion lies with helping our veteran community reach or surpass their own potential through infectious leadership, energetic coaching, and dynamic mentorship,” he said.
Jared says the major emphasis of his work is directed toward serving those who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, including homeless veterans and veterans with significant barriers to employment. Some of those barriers include a lack of experience and preparation post-military, unaddressed mental health issues and an inability to adapt to civilian work culture.
Jared said his own experiences in the military as well as his post-military public work as a Dept. of Youth Services (DYS) Youth Specialist have helped him help others. “I’ve been there. While the journey may not be the same, I have been down that path before,” he said.
Having suffered from a traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has allowed him to relate to and help others and give them the resources to overcome barriers. “‘Where are you today?’ I ask them. ‘What are your goals, short- and long-term?’ I help them create a roadmap to success, address and knock out all the barriers in their way, lead them to resources and get them job ready,” he said.
Of course, Jared attributes his success to those networks that help him do his work, including co-workers and supervisors in the Office of Workforce Development and community and veteran support services. “It is these networks that help me work beyond myself and service others. What I can accomplish as an individual is small, but what our team and network can accomplish is beyond great!” he said.
A driven individual, Jared has taken his dedication to serve others beyond ODJFS. In his community of Marietta, he was appointed to serve as a Veterans Service Commissioner, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Statewide he serves as a 1st Vice President of the Ohio State Association of Veterans Service Commissioners. He was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor in 2010.
Jared has also taken his dedication to the military and military families back to his hometown of Mansfield. Under Jared’s leadership through the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, the City of Mansfield will break ground on its own Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in May. The monument in the downtown area will honor the families of servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military.
“My hometown of Mansfield afforded me opportunities that jump started my whole adult life. I owe a debt of gratitude to the community of Mansfield and Richland County. This is my way of giving back,” said Jared.
See more OCSEA member spotlights and stories in the latest edition of the OCSEA magazine.