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Councilmembers approve study on creating internship program for veterans

Summary

Exploring ways to incorporate technical and leadership skills in to county job pool

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous support today to a motion calling on King County to explore ways to tap the skills and knowledge of a vital and underutilized group: Veterans.

“It is my hope that a veterans internship program will benefit not only those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, but all veterans who have gained such tremendous skills defending our county, but unable to find employment with those skills,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion. “This is an opportunity to create a regional model for public and private employers that can increase employment opportunities for these heroes who protect our freedom.”

“Returning veterans deserve our thanks and support, but can face significant challenges transitioning back to civilian life including finding a job in this tough economy,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, sponsor of last year’s successful renewal of the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy. “A veterans internship program benefits the County by developing and empowering a quality workforce, and helps expand the job prospects for our returning veterans.”

“With many military bases located in Washington state, we have a concentration of veterans returning here from overseas and in need of meaningful work and job opportunities,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “Our Veterans and Human Services levy funds some job training, but we can do more by providing the work opportunities they need to succeed in civilian life. At the same time, we can benefit from the technical skills and dedication to public service that our veterans bring home.”

One of the greatest challenges facing veterans returning to civilian life is employment. The unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts has remained consistently higher than the national average. Many veterans return to civilian life with technical and leadership skills gained during their training and deployment that could translate well to civilian governmental jobs—with a little help. The adopted motion focuses on assisting veterans in translating those skills in today’s job market.

The motion calls on the Human Resources Management Division of the Department of Executive Services to explore ways of implementing a veterans internship program and presenting the results of their inquiry to the Council by August 23, 2012.

The report would evaluate existing county employment policies and practices for veterans and make recommendations on the establishment of paid and unpaid veterans internship programs. It would also explore the potential costs to operate the veterans internship program and possible funding sources for the paid veterans internship program. With the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles having similar programs in place, the proposed motion calls for an analysis of comparable veteran internship programs instituted by other governments.


Veteran's intership program
Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the motion with Jim Broe, Post Commander of American Legion Post 161 in Redmond. Broe spoke to the Council before the vote on the motion to study ways of implementing a veterans internship program.
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