Dan Knowles got a lot of funny looks when he started working at Procter & Gamble. That’s because the Army veteran had spent seven years on active duty and was used to communicating in military lingo.

“The communication in the military tends to be somewhat terse and there’s a lot of shortcuts,” says Knowles. So when he agreed with what someone said at P&G Knowles responded in his typical military parlance: “Roger that.” 

His co-workers certainly weren’t used to that type of response. “You try that a couple times at P&G and people just look at you sideways,” says Knowles.

Communicating with others in civilian life is just one of the issues veterans face when transitioning out of the military, he says. Although Knowles had the advantage of earning a college degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, like many veterans he still faced hurdles transitioning back to the civilian life.

“Even now as I look back at that time period there were an awful lot of things that I struggled with unknowingly,” says Knowles. Not only were there communication issues, but the expectations in the business world and even the manner of leadership were different between the military and the civilian business world, he says.

“When you get out of the military and you think you’re a good leader and the first thing you start to get coaching on is your leadership style it’s a little bit hard to take sometimes,” says Knowles. Just a little coaching would have gone a long way to avoid the disconnect in the style of leadership, he says.

“If somebody had pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re a very good leader in this environment. Our environment is going to be different so you’re going to need a different set of leadership skills,’” says Knowles.

The beauty of learning about the challenges veterans have in transitioning back to the civilian life is that it has allowed Knowles to understand the needs of veterans, an important component of his job as president and CEO of the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance.

Knowles, Pat Clifford and another West Point graduate, Nate Pelletier, formed the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance in 2014. Its formation was partly the result of a community-needs assessment published by the Easter Seals social service organization that found a need for an independent, veteran-led organization for veterans in the Greater Cincinnati area.

That study found that the employment, health wellness and family service resources veterans and their families needed were scattered and not found in one location. The Tristate Veterans Community Alliance solved that problem by getting many of the organizations that provide those services to veterans to join the alliance as partners.

Those partner organizations have jumped from about 35 at the beginning to more than 100 now, he says. Those organizations include the United Way, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the Farmer Foundation, the Haile Foundation, Kroger, US Bank, Procter & Gamble, Cintas, Macy’s, PNC Bank and the Cincinnati Reds, says Knowles.

One of those partners, PNC Bank, has worked with the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance program on development and event sponsorship as well as leveraging their collective resources to better align business and community support for veterans and their families, says Kay Geiger, president of PNC Bank.

The importance of the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance program is that it is the only place a veteran or their family needs to go to get the services they may require, she says.

“What many people may not realize is that the [Tristate Veterans Community Alliance] is currently the only facility of its kind in the country, housing all of our region’s veteran services agencies in one convenient, coordinated building,” says Geiger. 

“This approach makes the process for outreach and connectivity to these organizations much less stressful and challenging for those who need their services the most,” she says.

One veteran who discovered the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance’s services through a chance meeting with one of the group’s employees is Dan Aubrey. He had followed his girlfriend to the Greater Cincinnati area and was conducting a job search on his own through various career websites without any luck.

Once he found out about the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance, Aubrey says members of the organization reviewed his resume and experience and reached out to several business leaders. “I didn’t really have the contacts in town so they were really helpful to connect me with the community,” says Aubrey.

Less than 30 days after contacting the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance, Aubrey says he got a job at A&A Wall Systems, where he still works today. Not only did they help find him a job, but Aubrey says members of the alliance routinely follow up with him to find out how he’s doing and to make sure everything is OK.

That level of service impressed Aubrey so much that he became a member of the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance Veterans Advisory Board. “I see it as a great way to pay it forward and … help in any way,” Aubrey says.

Many veterans have been helped by the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance in a little over a year, says Knowles. More than 400 veterans and their families have been helped through the organization’s Veterans In-Processing Welcome Center at 800 Bank St. and about 600 more veterans and their families have been helped through the organization’s website, he says.

The alliance is able to provide that help by developing a plan for veterans, just like they would receive in the military prior to a mission, says Knowles. “When you get out of the military and you’re in the civilian world … you really don’t have that plan anymore,” he says. 

“So what we do is we give them a plan. And then we connect them to the right resources that helps them move along that plan and then we track and follow up with them,” says Knowles.

Providing that plan, service and care has many appreciative veterans acknowledging the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance’s mission with a rousing, “Roger that!”

For more information about the Tristate Veterans Community Alliance go online to Tristatevca.org or call 513-357-2008.