As coordinator of the caregiver support program, Daniels is one of three assessors who finds out what assistance caregivers of veterans need. The services they might require are vast, including support groups, technology for virtual appointments, transportation, food or gas cards or respite services.
While many caregivers are spouses, they may also be friends, neighbors or another relative. The program helps them all.
“We are able to connect them to the resources and care that they need, and they are not alone,” she said.
Caregivers often sacrifice many years to help veterans physically and mentally, and this service is an important way to support veterans and say thank you both to them and to those caring for them, Daniels said.
“They have fought so that we are free,” she said.
Daniels combines her knowledge of what the VA offers with her connections within the community to serve veterans, their families and their caregivers, said Kim Powell, a social work program manager at the Dayton V.A. Medical Center and Daniels’ former supervisor.
“Carmela has a unique ability to be able to see bigger pictures,” Powell said.
Daniels strongly believes in making plans and carrying them out, she said. Others may lose their fire when they don’t see the results they expect, but not Daniels.
“She never seems to give up on people,” Powell said.
Daniels, who was born and raised in Dayton, said that she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a social worker. Social workers tend to be called upon when a person doesn’t know who else can help, Daniels said, and she wanted to be able to fill in those gaps.
“I really just wanted to make an impact in my community,” said Daniels, who earned a doctorate in social work last year.
Her impact reaches beyond the VA. Daniels also is president of the Dayton section of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization with about 50 active members. Among the groups’ efforts are programs serving youth, the homeless and incarcerated women.
Daniels also is involved in community service events with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. Mariette Wade nominated her friend and sorority sister as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.
Daniels doesn’t seek attention, doesn’t mind working behind the scenes and doesn’t care who gets the credit, Wade said. She just wants to get the job done.
“Her heart for service is second to none,” said Wade, of Hamilton.
Daniels last year started her own business, Dr. Carmela Daniels Mentoring and Consulting, offering mentorship and licensure assistance for current and future social workers. Daniels, too, said she wouldn’t be where she is without the support of her own mentors and family, including her mom. Daniels also has two children: Mekhi, 12, and Morgan, 10.
Giving back and serving others is at Daniels’ core.
“I am invested in Dayton, Ohio,” she said. “I am invested in the community.”