Program will incorporate technical and leadership skills of veterans into county job pool
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved legislation today that will launch a new internship program to tap the skills and knowledge of veterans living in King County.
“This veterans program will benefit not only those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, but all veterans who as a group have higher rates of unemployment than other segments of our population,” Said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the legislation. “Providing veterans opportunities to train for and successfully compete for employment with the County is a forward thinking approach that will positively affect veterans and their families.”
“Gainful employment is one of the most important things that veterans need to transition into civilian life,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council's Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “The mentoring that our county employees can provide will help veterans gain stability and avoid problems such as homelessness, substance abuse and involvement in the criminal justice system. Their dedication and skills are vital to our county in so many ways. We want these heroes to find success on the home front.”
“Far too many of the men and women who have served their Country in the armed service, have ‘fallen through the cracks,’” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “The HEROS program is a step in the right direction in assisting those heroes.”
“This program will help our returning veterans successfully compete for jobs,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “It has the potential to be an example for implementation by other public and private entities.”
The HERO (Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity) Program is open to any military veteran who meets King County Veteran’s Program (KCVP) qualifications. After a competitive selection process, each participant will receive an hourly wage for 30 hours of work per week for six months. To better ensure their success, each intern will be matched to a King County employee who is also a veteran.
“Many veterans returning from conflicts and service abroad can struggle finding a job during these tough economic times,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, a sponsor of the legislation. “By providing internship opportunities, we are helping veterans translate their skills and experience in the military to a civilian work environment.”
“The HERO internship program allows veterans to get that important foot in the door of transitioning to the next phase of their life and career,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “King County will benefit from having veterans join our workforce, and veterans will gain work experience, mentoring, and support services.”
“We owe it to our veterans to provide an environment where they can complete for jobs and gain employment, and this HERO program helps to do just that,” Councilmember Julia Patterson said. “By providing opportunities to gain work experience and develop professional skills, this internship program will prepare veterans for gainful employment and help them find work.”
“Connecting veterans with employment will help to make the all-too-often hard transition to civilian life a little bit easier,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “The HEROS program is part of our efforts to provide comprehensive services to help King County residents live engaged and meaningful lives.”
“Our veterans have served this country honorably and programs like this allow for our county to serve our veterans,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “These internships give our veterans jobs, and hopefully propel them for long-term success in the workforce.”
The veterans will also be provided with a comprehensive support plan, including connections to other community resources for veterans. During and after their six-month stint, HERO participants will receive one-on-one assistance in writing their resume and searching for employment. They will also get help applying for any King County job openings they qualify for.
King County has about 137,000 veterans, and that number is increasing due to the presence of military installations like Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) in Pierce County and Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton. According to the human resources command at JBLM, about 6,000 servicemembers transition out of the base each year. Many of these new veterans stay in the Puget Sound region, so programs are needed to provide civilian reintegration opportunities.
The HERO Program is expected to start in January 2013 with its first group of interns. The program is projected to run through mid-2014, with about a dozen interns participating in each six-month session. Veterans who are interested in participating in the HERO Program can call 206-205-5859.