Six-month paid internships help participants gain valuable civilian career skills
Veterans returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan face a job market with high unemployment rates and civilian workplaces where their valuable skills may not be recognized. To ease the transition and increase the employment rate of veterans, King County created the Heroes Employment Reintegration Opportunity (HERO) Program earlier this year. Today, the second group of program participants was recognized in a graduation ceremony led by Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett.
"HERO participants benefit by exploring civilian job opportunities, and King County benefits from the unique perspectives that veterans bring to our workforce and our global competitiveness," said Jarrett, who is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
The HERO Program was established as a two-year pilot funded by the Veterans and Human Services Levy and the King County agencies that hire interns. From its inception, the HERO Program was designed to provide essential support to veterans by matching their military knowledge, skills, and abilities with development opportunities within King County. Participants earn an hourly wage during their six-month internship, and are mentored by current King County employees who are themselves veterans.
"Through the HERO Program, these highly skilled veterans gained valuable work experience which will aid in their transition to the civilian workforce," said County King Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the prime sponsor of the ordinance creating the HERO Program. "I'd like to thank County Executive Dow Constantine and my fellow Councilmembers for supporting this program and I look forward to its continued growth and successes."
The veterans honored at today's ceremony include:
- Renita Borders, a chief hospital corpsman with the U.S. Navy
- Gary Cashman, a specialist with the U.S. Army
- Jerry Damey, a sergeant in the U.S. Army
- Michael Damon, a petty officer first class in the U.S. Navy
- Jonathon Peters, an information systems technician second class with the U.S. Coast Guard.
During the ceremony, graduates received a special coin inscribed with a King County logo and the seals of each branch of the U.S. military. Similar coins are often presented to servicemembers by their unit commanders in recognition of special achievement.
Through the first two sessions of the HERO Program, King County placed 16 military veterans into diverse internships providing experience in administrative, technical, clerical, and skilled crafts positions. A third group of veterans will begin internships in January.
For more information about the King County Veterans Program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/veterans.
Four of the HERO Program graduates honored by King County. From left: Jerry Damey, Gary Cashman, Jonathon Peters, and Renita Borders.